A surprising number of this year’s Olympic athletes are from the Sacred Heart Catholic school system.
The 2016 Olympic Games are currently being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is an occasion for people from all over the world to come together and root for their favorite athletes and teams. However, this year’s Olympics have something more to offer Christians, especially those who have passed through the doors of Sacred Heart institutions in different countries all over the world.
There are several athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic Games who are united by their Catholic education at various Sacred Heart Schools. They include:
U.S.A. Sacred Heart Olympians
KK Clark – A water polo player originally from Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, CA.
Katie Ledecky – A swimmer, originally from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, located in Bethesda, MD.
Lia Neal – A swimmer from the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York, NY.
Canadian Sacred Heart Olympians
Erin Rafuse – Competing in the Women’s Double Handed Skiff, Erin is an alumnus of Sacred Heart School of Halifax, from the Class of 2006.
Mexican Sacred Heart Olympians
Gaby Lopez – Specializing in golf, Gaby is from Colegio Sagrado Corazon.
Australian Sacred Heart Olympians
Anabelle Smith – She is a synchronized diver from Sacre’ Coeur, Melbourne, Australia.
Olympic Team Management
Denise Sheldon – Head of delegation for U.S.A. Volleyball. She is from St. Joseph’s and Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton, CA.
Mary Joe Fernandez – Women’s Tennis Coach for U.S.A. and comes from Carrolton School.
Of these, Katie Ledecky, Lia Neal and Anabelle Smith have all won medals in the ongoing Olympic Games, thus bringing joy and pride of association to Sacred Heart, the one common factor uniting them all. This makes us question: What is the secret to Sacred Heart’s Olympic success?
The Society of the Sacred Heart founded a network of over 145 Sacred Heart Schools all over the world, and these schools have been actively instilling Catholic education and values to young minds for the past two hundred years. It is this system of Christian values and education that is partly responsible for producing the big number of Sacred Heart Olympic participants and winners.
Donna Heckler, the school’s communication director, had this to say: “Our athletes recognize that their gifts come from God and are not to be wasted. They are taught to take personal responsibility for themselves while being self-disciplined in their efforts,” she said.
Heckler also noted that the network of Sacred Heart schools focuses on inculcating five goals in their students, goals and values that inspire them to be self-disciplined, ambitious and hardworking: a personal relationship with God, respect for intellectual values, social awareness and action, community building and personal growth.
— Ina Herlihy (@inaherlihy) August 14, 2016
Heckler also notes that, “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.”
The Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart are responsible for the day to day operations of the network of Sacred Heart Schools. As the Olympic Games continue, it remains to be seen whether the secret sauce of Sacred Heart will lead to more Olympic medals for its alumni.