Role of a Team Sport Chaplain
Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR



Recently, and quite serendipitously, I came across a reference to a sermon by the Jesuit priest poet Gerard Manley Hopkins that was delivered on April 25, 1882 in Liverpool addressing, what a Paraclete means.

Hopkins posits, "For God the Holy Ghost is the Paraclete, but what is a Paraclete? Often it is translated comforter, but a Paraclete does more than comfort. The word is Greek; there is no one English word for it and no one Latin word, comforter, is not enough. A Paraclete is one who comforts, who cheers, who encourages, who persuades, who exhorts, who stirs up, who urges forward, who calls on;Öwhat clapping of hands is to a speaker, what a trumpet is to the soldier, that a Paraclete is to the soul: one who calls us on. A Paraclete is one who calls us on to good."

Envision a third base coach in the game of baseball. How eagerly he will call out to the base runner, shouting Come on, come on! "A Paraclete is just that, something that cheers the spirit of man, with signals and with cries, all zealous that he should do something and full of assurance that if he will he can, calling him on, springing to meet him half way, crying to his ears or to his heart: This way to do Godís will, this way to save your soul, come on, come on!"

This is the role of a team sport chaplain, one who exhorts an athlete and team on to their best: "This way to do Godís will, this way to save your soul, come on, come on!"

On further reflection, this is good advice for coaches teammates, parents, teachers, in fact, good advice for us all.


Hopkins, Gerard Manley. SERMON: The Paraclete, (Liverpool, 1882)

For a longer version check out:
"The Coach for Our Lives: Role of the Holy Spirit in the New Millennium"