With Olympic-mania hitting fever pitch right now as the U.S. and Canada take to the ice to compete for hockey gold, here's an Olympic story that ends not with a medal but with a religious vocation.
Kirstin Holum placed sixth in the 3,000-meter and seventh in the 5,000-meter speedskating races for the United States in the Nagano, Japan, Winter Olympics in 1998. At 17, she was considered a prodigy with a bright skating future. But instead she joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, a New York-based order that works directly with the poor. Now known as Sister Catherine, the young woman is serving in England with three other sisters, according to a CNS story.
From the CNS story:
"'I could have gone on' with speedskating, Sister Catherine told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 22 telephone interview. 'I was thinking this (Vancouver, British Columbia) could have been my fourth Olympics, but I am so grateful the Lord led me to where I am now.'
"When speaking to youth groups Sister Catherine makes no secret of her past as an Olympic speedskater because it opens up the possibility of a religious vocation to young people who would never have thought about it.
"'Usually you get a shocked look,' she told CNS. 'It is hard for children sometimes to picture you as anything else than a nun. It is definitely a starting point for evangelization, for bringing them closer to Christ, because they can see there is a real person standing in front of them and not just a nun.'"
Sister Catherine's mother, Dianne Holum, was a gold medal Olympic skater and later a trainer, but she also grounded her daughter in the Catholic faith, even sending her on a pilgrimage to Fatima in 1996. It was there that Sister Catherine felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation, she told CNS:
"'I was not feeling in my heart that I would be skating the rest of my life; I knew there was more to life than sports,' she said. 'I never regretted that decision. I think it was just a grace from God to bring me to something else.'
"'I saw people making sports into the most important thing, and I didn't desire that,' she said."
To read the full story, click HERE.