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Whether it’s competitive indoor soccer or Monday evening volleyball, young adults in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are discovering new sides to their friends through recreation.

In the last few years, young adults stepped into leadership roles on a quest to bring other like-minded young people together for a community activity. The beauty of their efforts lies in the variety of options created.

Catholic school teacher Megan Luiso founded an indoor sports team of Catholics that she says is an incredible source of joy for all the players. “When I played soccer in college, it was the most meaningful community I had there—you’re working together for a common goal. This sport has taught me a lot about community and not living your faith alone,” she said.

She brought that to Cincinnati, forming a team both with people she knew and some she’d never met. Playing four sessions during the year, they’ve advanced from level one to level three. More importantly, they’ve settled into a regular set of friends, who regularly go out for drinks afterwards to socialize. Luiso said it’s a gift to spend that time together outside of just weekly Mass.

“It’s very lonely sometimes, being a young Catholic adult in the workforce,” she said. “The regularity of this team— the fact that you can depend on people to show up—it’s just nice to know that we’re not alone in our beliefs.”

A similar story lies behind the explosion of young adult volleyball teams this summer. Mary Peach, a religion teacher, said she’s enjoyed getting to know more about her Catholic friends outside of Bible studies and prayer- oriented settings. She and a few friends from St. Cecilia Parish learned her friend Nicholas Thorvaldson was forming a team to play in leagues at The Sandbar.

John David Kimes, director of young adult ministry at St. Cecilia Parish, was instrumental in reviving the “Sunday Sports Play” group in 2022 after COVID-19. On Sundays, young adults play pickup-style games reminiscent of college intramural sports. Kimes said it’s ideal because it’s an easy entry point, and people want to meet others in their age range with similar interests.

“I think there’s a bonding experience that comes from doing things together, especially for the complementarity for guys and girls,” he said. “Even if they aren’t good at sports, or super athletic, the majority of people are there for fun.”

Evan Atkins moved to Cincinnati a year and a half ago and said he was attracted to the group for using recreation to bring the Church into “areas of our lives that we’ve given to secularism.” Doing everyday things with a Catholic perspective unites participants.

“It’s easier to be more intentional about your faith when you’re more disciplined physically and mentally, and sports helps with both Any time you can increase these gifts God gave us, that applies directly into your faith life,” said Atkins.

This article appeared in the September 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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