If you’ve been infected by that wonderful bug, Olympic Fever, for the past week, then you’re probably bleary-eyed but happy. A Catholic News Agency article (excerpted below) revealed what nine Rio Olympians have in common. Katie Ledecky (swimming), Lia Neal (swimming), and Anabelle Smith (synchronized diving) have won medals. Most of the other six athletes, KK Clark (water polo), Gaby Lopez (golf), Gabi Nance (field hockey), Erin Rafuse (sailing), Denise Sheldon (volleyball team manager), and Mary Joe Fernandez (tennis coach) haven’t won because they haven’t finished competing yet!
The nine women are from four countries. So what do they have in common? They all went to school in the Sacred Heart school system, which has been educating young women in virtue for over 200 years.
Virtues like what?
“Our athletes recognize that their gifts come from God and are not to be wasted,” the school’s communications director Donna Heckler told Catholic News Agency. “They are taught to take personal responsibility for themselves while being self-disciplined in their efforts.”
So, what’s their secret to producing all-stars?
While Heckler noted that they have no secret to producing Olympians, she said the school “does have a secret to producing amazing people. That secret is seen in the five Goals and Criteria that bind the schools together.”
The five main goals instilled in students are: a personal relationship with God, respect for intellectual values, social awareness and action, community building, and personal growth.
“Students are taught to open themselves up to the transforming power of the Spirit of God and to explore their individual relationships to God, to self, to others and to all creation,” Heckler said.
The network of Sacred Heart Schools are run by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Although each individual school has its own history and character, they are all rooted in St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s mission of challenging every student to be her “most authentic self.”
While the Sacred Heart Olympians are making a big splash in the Rio games this year, Heckler noted that all of their alumnae are bringing Catholic values to various outlets in the world.
“While today we are all celebrating the Olympic athletes, Sacred Heart alumnae are making a difference throughout the world: in business, journalism, music, education, medicine, justice and peace, in the arts, in service,” Heckler said.
“With a strong faith, commitment to others, and value of community, Sacred Heart students bring these values to the world every day.”
So keep your eye out for the Sacred Heart women to bring home more hardware for their respective countries because virtue is golden!