Skip to content

Catholic athletics organization key to making Catholics welcome in sports

By Robert Mullen
3/4/2014 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Major Leaguers credit CAC with spreading faith

Christianity is heavily present in American professional sports, at least the Protestant denominations are. Catholics, meanwhile, can often feel attacked or unwelcome by their fellow Christian-athletes.

Mike Sweeny played for Kansas City from 1995-2007.

Mike Sweeny played for Kansas City from 1995-2007.


By Robert Mullen
Catholic Online (
3/4/2014 (4 years ago)

Published in Sports

Keywords: Catholic athletes, MLB, sports, Sweeney, De Fatus

LOS ANGELES CA (Catholic Online) -- Ray McKenna founded Catholic Athletes for Christ in 2006 in response to the perceived lack of organizations dedicated to Catholic athletes.

Originally, this nonprofit organization was dedicated to serving Catholic athletes in the MLB. Then it branched into the NFL and other professional sports before including Olympic, college, and high-school athletes.

According to their website, CAC is designed to serve Catholic athletes in both their athletic and everyday lives, primarily by providing a network of Catholic athletes, coaches, and staff, and clergy and laypeople. They also strive to provide Catholic role models and reverse the moral crisis in sports today.

McKenna originally worked with Baseball Chapel, a Protestant organization similar to CAC that focused on baseball, where he first encountered anti-Catholic prejudice. McKenna stayed in spite of his issue with that organization because he felt it was worth the problems to spread the word of God to athletes.

Eventually he had to leave that organization after hearing a former Catholic MLB player criticize the church at a nondenominational ministry conference.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, McKenna recalled that incident. "That was the most heartbreaking moment for me. I had heard negative things before then, but in that presentation, the Church's positions were so distorted that you couldn't even recognize what he was talking about. It was then that I really started to think in earnest about starting a distinctly Catholic organization in pro sports."

Former Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney also attended the same conference with McKenna, and experienced many of the same anti-Catholic prejudices.

Sweeney is chairman of the CAC's Athlete Advisory Board and enjoys the annual CAC Baseball Retreat where he said he's nourished spiritually by his fellow Catholics. During the Nov. 19-21, 2013 retreat, Sweeney held a presentation on the role of the Virgin Mary in the lives of Christians.
"She is the first Christian, the ideal Christian, and the Christian who brings Christ to all Christians," Sweeny told the Register.

Californian native and pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Justin De Fratus also credits McKenna and CAC for helping his Catholic faith grow, and connecting him with other Catholic professional athletes.

"When I first started in pro ball, you'd think everyone on the team was either a Protestant or just nonreligious. You wouldn't even know who the Catholics were." De Fratus has also been attending the CAC retreats, starting in 2012.

While CAC and McKenna have been incredibly active in the past year, he already has upcoming projects for 2014, including the NFL Combine Mass and the inaugural NFL Retreat.


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption.
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.


More Sports

The 2018 Olympic Games open with one ominous sign Watch

Image of Vice President Mike Pence refused to stand at the entrance of the unified Korean team. Does this portend difficult times ahead?

The 2018 Olympic Games have opened in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The opening ceremonies saw the North and South Korean teams enter the ... continue reading

Is it acceptable for a Catholic to enjoy watching the Super Bowl? Watch

Image of

Super Bowl Sunday. It's as American as apple pie, but in recent years, controversy has erupted over the beloved American pastime and - ... continue reading

Black magic? Have you heard about the curse broken by the Chicago Cubs? Watch

Image of The Chicago Cubs have won the 2016 World Series.

The Chicago Cubs have won the 2016 World Series in a 10-inning game, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-3. The win breaks a 108-year losing ... continue reading

Was Arnold Palmer Catholic? Archabbot shares his story of friendship Watch

Image of Arnold Palmer won 95 professional championships and seven major tournaments.

The world lost a great human being and legendary sportsman in Arnold Palmer. The golfer passed away on September 25, a day before he was to ... continue reading

First ever Catholic Night hosted by LA Dodgers Watch

Image of LA Dodgers to host Catholic Night.

On Sept. 2, Dodger Stadium served as the center of a massive Venn diagram of local Catholics and lifelong fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.