Olympic swim medalists embrace Catholic connections

Two U.S. women’s team swimmers who earned medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics have strong Catholic connections — and are not afraid to say so.

Katie Ledecky, 15, who will be a sophomore at all-girls' Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md., this fall, says she always prays the Hail Mary before races.

Ledecky, who won the Olympic gold medal in women's 800 freestyle Aug. 3, said her strong Catholic faith keeps her focused on God and what matters most in life. She and her family are longtime parishioners of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda.

"I also love going to Mass every week. It's a great chance to reflect and connect with God. (My faith) has been a big part of my life since I was born," she told the Catholic Standard, newspaper the Washington Archdiocese, in an interview before heading to London for the Summer Olympics.

Ledecky said she has always loved St. Anne, the mother of Mary, and chose her name for confirmation. Because her birthday is March 17, Ledecky also has a special devotion to St. Patrick.

With her Stone Ridge classmates, teachers and friends cheering her on during a viewing rally at Stone Ridge School, the teen swimmer touched the wall with a time of 8.14.63, nearly breaking the world record set in 2008.

"We are so proud of her and so inspired by her," said Catherine Ronan Karrels, Stone Ridge's head of school, who led the gathering in a prayer for Ledecky before her race began. “This is such a great gift to us to cheer for a living example of what a young person can achieve with great talent, determination and heart.”

Wearing "Ledecky Team USA" T-shirts and waving American flags, more than 300 members of the Stone Ridge community, including students, alumnae and school parents, turned out to watch Ledecky's race in an online live stream of Olympic coverage.

"I'm unbelievably proud of her," said Allie Rock, a rising junior at Stone Ridge. "She's the perfect example of how hard work pays off, and she's worked so hard for this. She totally deserved this. We are so happy for her."

As Ledecky led at every turn and maintained the lead for the entire 16-lap race, her admirers roared with excitement, erupting in the wildest cheers and applause when she finished first to win the gold.

"She's so great, and we all love her," said Martha Betubiza, one of Ledecky's fellow sophomores, adding that she and her classmates hope to be part of a "Welcome home Katie Ledecky" gathering at Dulles Airport when she returns from the Olympics, which end Aug. 12.

"She's so hard-working, modest and doesn't really talk about swimming," said classmate Ella Hartsoe, describing Ledecky. "She's just so nice to everyone."

For swimmer Missy Franklin, a rising senior at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, "there is nothing like wearing a cap with my country's flag on it."

"I always remember, though,” she told the Denver Catholic Register, newspaper of the Denver Archdiocese, “that I'm not just representing the U.S. but also my family, friends, team, school and Colorado!"

She made those comments early this year before she earned a spot on the U.S. women's Olympic swimming team, before she was a four-time gold medalist. In London, she earned gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, and as a member of the 4x200-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter medley relay teams. She also earned a bronze in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.

Franklin is not a Catholic, but she said life as a student at a Jesuit-run high school has her considering joining the church.

"My experiences at Regis Jesuit have absolutely impacted my spiritual life, in so many ways," she said. “I am considering converting to Catholicism.

"Going into Regis Jesuit, my faith was not a very big aspect of my life. Taking my first theology classes, going to my first Masses, going on my first retreats, I began to realize how important God is in my life and how much I love him and need him.”

Franklin said her relationship with God grew so much in her first three years at the school. "I am very happy with where I am with him right now, although there is a lot of more work to do," she added.

On the men’s side, Conor Dwyer — who joined Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens in winning the men's 4x200 freestyle relay July 31 — is a graduate of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. He also competed in the 400 freestyle.



Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.


February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29

February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.


    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.


    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  


    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

Get our news by email

Bob Smith BMW 300x250
Bob Smith Toyota 300x250
Bob Smith Mini 300x250