Why Doesn’t CYO Have Games on Sundays?

 

The answer to this question can not come without first looking at the very meaning of Sunday 

 

from the Catholic tradition and teaching. From the very beginning, God “blessed the seventh 

 

day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” 

 

(Gen. 2:2-3). It is probably fair to discern that scripture does not tell us God rested simply to 

 

convey that he was ‘worn out’ from creating all of the heavens and earth (although who could 

 

blame Him) but rather because it makes a greater point about how we are to honor and praise 

 

God. Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes on the topic that “God’s action is 

 

the model for human action,” stating that “if God ‘rested and was refreshed’ on the seventh 

 

day, man too ought to ‘rest’ and should let others” (CCC 2172). In accordance with the third 

 

commandment, the Jewish people of ancient times (and today) set aside the “sabbath of solemn 

 

rest, holy to the LORD” (Ex 31:15). The coming of Christ then clarified this teaching and gave it 

 

new meaning, shifting our celebration of rest and worship from the traditional Saturday Sabbath 

 

to Sunday as we celebrate the “new creation” recalled in Christ’s Resurrection on the first day 

 

of the week (CCC 2174). Indeed, since her very beginnings in the person of Jesus, the Catholic 

 

Church has held that Sunday is to be a day reserved not only for the communal celebration of 

 

the Eucharist, but also a day for all people to “enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their 

 

familial, cultural, social and religious lives” (CCC 2184).

 

 

A fantastic account of the Church’s teachings on Sunday can be found in Saint Pope John Paul 

 

II’s 1998 Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (which can be found by clicking here). In this great work, 

 

the Pope beautifully outlines the reasons we celebrate the Lord’s Day while addressing the 

 

many challenges posed by modern society and offering wisdom for our continuing to observe 

 

the Lord’s Day appropriately. He observes that for much of the Church’s history, the practice 

 

of keeping holy the Lord’s Day was easier because it was almost universally observed (Dies 

 

Domini 4). Yet today this task can be difficult. A person can easily observe that businesses 

 

now remain open, activities remain scheduled and the world simply does not slow down for a 

 

day of rest on any day, with Sunday for many just another day of the week. Yet as Catholics 

 

we inherently recognize that this day is different, we still long for a day of rest to spend with 

 

our family, worshipping God in the celebration of the Eucharist and commemorating the 

 

Resurrection of the Lord. In his wisdom, the Pope also notes that even as the sharing in the 

 

Eucharist is the “heart of Sunday” our “duty to keep Sunday holy cannot be reduced to this” 

 

(52). He talks of the importance of living in a way that assures we do “not forget that God is the 

 

Creator upon whom everything depends” (65). In addition to spending time in “relaxation” with 

 

family and friends and refraining from unnecessary work, the Pope states that an important part 

 

of this involves solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world for whom there 

 

is no day of rest, noting that it is our “obligation to ensure that everyone can enjoy the freedom, 

 

rest and relaxation which human dignity requires” (66). 

 

 

In keeping all this in mind, as well as consulting additional church teaching and with our 

 

Archbishop Joseph Naumann and several other leaders in our Archdiocese, our CYO approved 

 

a bylaw change in Spring 2011 that prohibits “all CYO activities from taking place on Sunday, 

 

including meetings, practices and games, so that our families can remain committed to worship 

 

of the Lord and observe a day of rest” (CYO Bylaws, Section 2.3). At the time, a letter was also 

 

circulated by Archbishop Naumann supporting the move and detailing some of the reasons for 

 

this change (full text found below). Within that letter, the following was noted regarding the change:

 

By playing games on Sunday, CYO found that it was employing dozens of persons in 

 

administrative capacity and further realized that these games were not conducive to allowing 

 

families a day for worship and rest. Moving these games off of Sunday will set an important 

 

example for our participants and promote the teaching of our Church.

 

 

The first point, that CYO activities required many individuals to work on Sunday, was a chief 

 

concern in making this change. From administrative staff to gym supervisors, from officials 

 

to custodial staff, it takes a lot of individuals working to create these opportunities for play. In 

 

addition, our office found while considering this change that many parents and coaches involved 

 

in CYO games preferred not to have to participate on Sunday so that they could spend the 

 

Lord’s Day with their entire family at home, even if that was simply relaxing and recharging 

 

for the week ahead. We simply did not feel that we were promoting a very important church 

 

teaching by having these individuals work or volunteer on Sunday when we could just as easily 

 

schedule them on a different day.

 

 

The second point can perhaps be even more important, noting that we aim to “set an important 

 

example” by adopting this policy. This example can be set in two important areas: in families 

 

and in society. For families, we hope to provide an opportunity for families everywhere to 

 

thoughtfully assess how they are spending the Lord’s Day each week and indeed how time is 

 

prioritized throughout the week. For some, a Catholic organization making this change may 

 

give cause to reconsider unnecessary work or time spent not appropriate to observing the 

 

Lord’s Day. For others, it could spark a renewed commitment to attending Mass every Sunday. 

 

On a broader scale, our CYO strives to be a leader regionally and nationally in promoting a 

 

youth sports environment that supports the needs of children and families. With this, one of our 

 

goals was not only to set forth a policy that we felt better served our CYO families, but to set an 

 

important precedent in a world that treats Sunday as just another day of the week. In a world 

 

where many youth sports now schedule games that directly compete with a family’s ability to 

 

attend Mass on Sunday morning, the challenges to religious observation are real. If our small 

 

example encourages another organization to consider how they impact Sunday, if in even a 

 

small way we encourage reflection on our Lord’s Day or promote a society that better facilitates 

 

a Sunday of worship and rest, then our efforts can have an even greater impact.

 

 

To be clear, there remains no church teaching or papal document that specifically prohibits 

 

participating in recreation on Sunday, and instituting this policy in CYO has brought forth some 

 

very fair and good conversation regarding how best to approach this. Even in itself, that is a 

 

very good thing: the initiative has spurred new conversation about how to best observe Sunday 

 

that in itself has had positive affects. The most common objection raised to the policy is from 

 

the family that feels participating in Catholic youth sports together was a very fitting way to 

 

spend their Sunday. The question arises, if it’s an activity taking place in a Church, with Catholic 

 

values and great fellowship, how doesn’t this fit into a Catholic view of Sunday? It’s a fair 

 

question that deserves to be answered. 

 

 

Perhaps the easiest answer is that not all families would see it that way. What for one family 

 

may be relaxing may for another require driving multiple kids to different locations, splitting 

 

the family apart and allowing no time for relaxation together. What for one family may provide 

 

great fellowship and fun might put another in a position where they are forced to work an 

 

event and spend time away from home. The idea is not that youth sports in themselves are 

 

somehow opposed to a Christ-centered approach to Sunday, but rather that in this format and 

 

in our modern society, they more of then than not create an environment that is not conducive 

 

to separating and observing the Lord’s Day. With this in mind and in considering our call 

 

to solidarity, it’s important that we considered as an organization how our schedules could 

 

negatively impact any of the members of our community and detract from our ultimate goal of 

 

leading families to Christ. Certainly those families who enjoy the afternoon relaxing together at 

 

a CYO activity can still do so on Saturday or on a weeknight, then have Sunday afternoon free 

 

to spend together as a family in more ways pleasing to God! In those situations where Sunday 

 

CYO meant work or separation of the family, they can now be free to spend the day in worship 

 

and rest, free to echo the cry of the Psalmist: “This is the day which the Lord has made: let us 

 

rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24). 

 

 

As a CYO, we clearly believe that sports can have an important and authentically Catholic 

 

role in leading children and families to Christ. The participation of families in recreation or 

 

entertainment together can even be a great way to enjoy God’s creation and relax on a Sunday. 

 

Yet in today’s society and as an organization called to serve many different people throughout 

 

the church, we carefully discerned that our role was to proclaim the faith in a way that once 

 

again sets apart Sunday in a prominent way, for all to see. In the years since this policy has 

 

been in effect, our CYO is proud to have received emails and calls from people here in our 

 

Archdiocese and across the United States who have been positively affected by this change. 

 

Many have been Catholic, but some have been families of other faiths or officials in public 

 

organizations that have asked us about this change and are hoping to institute the same policy 

 

in their own organizations. In our own small way, the example set forth by our CYO community 

 

is helping to reclaim the Lord’s Day and working to create a culture that once again recognizes 

 

the beauty and holiness of Sunday.

 

 

In the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini referenced earlier, Saint John Paul II writes the following 

 

about Sunday rest:

 

 

Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material 

 

things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less 

 

pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties 

 

of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can 

 

be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full. As the day on which man is at peace with God, with 

 

himself and with others, Sunday becomes a moment when people can look anew upon the 

 

wonders of nature, allowing themselves to be caught up in that marvelous and mysterious 

 

harmony which, in the words of Saint Ambrose, weds the many elements of the cosmos in 

 

a "bond of communion and peace" by "an inviolable law of concord and love”....If after six days 

 

of work — reduced in fact to five for many people — people look for time to relax and to pay 

 

more attention to other aspects of their lives, this corresponds to an authentic need which is 

 

in full harmony with the vision of the Gospel message. Believers are therefore called to satisfy 

 

this need in a way consistent with the manifestation of their personal and community faith, as 

 

expressed in the celebration and sanctification of the Lord's Day (67).

 

 

It is our prayer in CYO that this policy can help to foster the celebration and sanctification of the 

 

Lord’s Day as expressed by the great Pope. May God bless all your days and in particular the 

 

weekly celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection that we celebrate each Sunday.

 

Peter Piscitello

 

Executive Director, CYO

 

Summer 2014

 

 

 

March 15, 2011

 

 

Dear Pastors and Parish Staff,

 

I am writing to offer my support for an important change being proposed in our CYO programs and to request your support. As you know, for a number of years our CYO program has played games on both Saturdays and Sundays through the fall and winter seasons. CYO Executive Director Peter Piscitello has proposed a new bylaw that would prohibit any CYO activity from taking place on Sunday beginning this fall.

 

The impetus for this change is rooted within Church teaching and our fundamental need to keep holy the Lord’s Day. In preparing this proposal, the CYO sought guidance from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, our Archdiocesan offices and many other parish constituents. By playing games on Sunday, CYO found that it was employing dozens of persons in administrative capacity and further realized that these games were not conducive to allowing families a day for worship and rest. Moving these games off of Sunday will set an important example for our participants and promote the teaching of our Church. It is truly an opportunity to help our youth and families grow closer to Christ through a more authentic realization of their needs. Along with other recent initiatives in CYO, this sets an important foundation for evangelization through youth sports in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties. 

 

I offer my enthusiastic support of this proposal and would ask for your support within our parishes. The CYO Executive Board will vote this bylaw on May 14, 2012 and the full proposal can be found on the CYO website. Attached to this letter you will also find a plan for the use of parish gym space that will allow this proposal to take shape. Rest assured that CYO is striving to work with your parish staff to facilitate interaction and foster a positive environment working toward the same goals. I appreciate your parish’s support of this proposal and know that the CYO would welcome your feedback and input at any time. May God bless our parishes and the CYO program.

 

 

Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

 

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Catholic Youth Organization of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties. 

© 2017 by CYOJWA. CYO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

 

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5041 Reinhardt Drive, Suite 310

Roeland Park, KS 66205

Phone: 913-915-0139