I lost miserably to Sister Rachel. Every. Time. It made no difference that she was 30 years older than I. Sister Rachel not only schooled me in the game of racquetball, but she schooled me in what it means to be a class-act competitor. For Sister Rachel, it was a sign of great respect to give it one's all in a game, to bring your best self. The numbers on the board were just numbers. I personally never saw double digits against Sister Rachel, although granted I sometimes saw stars. Only once did I think she might lose her cool. I accidentally hit her instead of the ball with my powerful, unwieldy forehand. She barely flinched (I froze, horrified) and kept going. After every game, we'd head back to the convent and enjoy a beer served in a champagne glass. Sister Rachel was always a class act.
Sister Rachel was one of the women who helped me more easily hear the call to religious life. I thought it was so cool that a Catholic sister was also an athlete. I had always been athletic and into sports (first girl on our grade school football team, thank you very much). Knowing Sister Rachel (and actually a number of nuns in my congregation), were athletes was like a little confirmation from God saying, "Look, it's okay, you can bring your whole self to life as a Catholic sister!"
As we engage in the Olympics this week, I am grateful for all the Catholic sisters and nuns in my life and in the global sisterhood who totally got game!!
Don't miss the following podcast episodes and blog posts on Catholic sisters and nuns in sports and on athleticism and faith.
1. Sister Anita Quigley, SHCJ
Sport: Open Water Swimming
Congregation: Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus
Listen Now: How can sports like open-water swimming be a form of prayer?
2. Sister Maxine Kollasch, IHM and Sister Julie Vieira, IHM
Congregation: Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, Michigan
Read and Listen: All of our Biking Nun blog posts and podcasts
3. Sister Catherine Holum, CFR
Sport: Olympic Speed Skating
Congregation: Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal
Read more: Olympics Speedskater is now a Catholic Nun
Photo credit: See article, "Spiritual athletics: Sister Catherine Holum, nun and former Olympic speed-skater, on the connections between sport and the religious life by Mark Greaves" (June 23, 2012)
4. Athletic Asceticism
Listen Now: What are the intersections of the ascetic life and being an athlete? Is there a relationship between sport and God?
5. Saints of Extreme Sports
Listen Now: Who might be a good patron saint for Extreme Sports?
Hang out with the nuns @aNunsLife on social all this week
for more on Catholic sisters, faith, Olympics, God, and sports!