For me, most things in life somehow relate to football, and the Church's "Year for Consecrated Life" is no exception. I recently read a New York Times article about a Benedictine nun who coaches football in her spare time. What struck me most about the article is the way her religious vocation, professional duties, and coaching "side gig" all work seamlessly for the Kingdom. Like this Benedictine nun, I too am a vowed religious who teaches and coaches (Go Hornets!). I see this triple role as a three-headed means to further the personal growth of the students -- what we Jesuits call cura personalis. I teach students during the day; I coach lacrosse after school; and all the while I bear witness to my vocation. Like the vintage college football "wishbone triple-option," I have three ways of getting myself and others to the apostolic end zone: prayer and community, professional responsibilities, and the ability to walk personally with people on their journey with God.
Unlike the triple-option, however, I, and other religious who serve this way, do not have to choose between religious life, a professional life, or a mentoring relationship like coaching. We religious utilize all three means simultaneously. We live and pray together, and our shared witness and support leads us to the Lord. Our witness calls us to be proficient in our professional and mentoring skills, and ready for whatever God and the People of God need. This means being generous with my time, serving constructively as a colleague, being a clear voice of instruction, a positive coach and an organized and creative lesson-planner. All of these skills help my students to develop as young persons, thus leading us closer to the Lord. Now that's a winning combination!
As the Spiritual Exercises have taught me, all of humanity was created to be in close relationship with God. My time as teacher, coach and religious is privileged enough to bring me closer to God on a daily basis and I try to witness to that in all that I do. This is the reason I wake up every morning and this is the reason I entered the Society of Jesus.