by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan . — The value of keeping the Sabbath holy — and restful — is nothing new to Kansans. In the territorial era, they even looked forward to it.
“It is Saturday evening and we are glad that another Sabbath is near at hand,” wrote Thomas Wells, a resident of Manhattan, in a Nov. 29, 1856, letter to his father.
“We find a great deal to do and feel that we ought to work while we can,” he continued, “but tired from the labors of the week we are glad when that day approaches wherein we must not work.”
But modern Kansans? Not so much. In today’s go-go-gittem culture, Sunday can be as busy as any day of the week.
Nevertheless, today’s Catholics — like their ancient Hebrew ancestors — are required to keep the Sabbath holy. The church teaches that Sundays are days both of solemn rest and worship, as noted in paragraphs 2168 to 2195 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In order to assist archdiocesan Catholics to bring their lives into conformity with this vital teaching, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has introduced two new policies for Catholic schools and the Catholic Youth Organization.
On March 21, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann sent a letter to all pastors, parish administrators and athletic directors of parishes in Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas counties that participate in CYO.
“I am writing to offer my support for an important change being proposed in our CYO programs and to request your support,” wrote Archbishop Naumann.
“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,” he continued. “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 CYO executive board voted during a meeting on May 14 to change the organization’s bylaws to prohibit Sunday activities.
“Last year, we had four games at each parish on a Sunday perhaps,” said Piscitello. “Ultimately, we had about 30 to 60 games on a Sunday last year, depending on the weekend.”
Prior to the adoption of this policy, some basketball games were played on Sundays from 1 – 9 p.m. To accommodate the scheduling change, some seventh- and eighth-grade games will occasionally be played on Thursday and Friday nights.
“If [your family] has a seventh- or eighth-grader [in CYO], the net effect of this is that you will probably play one or two games over an entire year on a Thursday or Friday night,” said Piscitello.
Parents seem to like the change, he said. Weekends are busy and on Sunday evenings families need time to prepare to go back to work.
Although it wasn’t planned that way, a similar effort to keep Sundays clear was also launched by archdiocesan schools.
This past spring, the archdiocesan school office amended its policies to read that “school-sponsored practices, competitions, events, and meetings should not be scheduled on Sundays so that families and school faculty may honor the Lord’s day.”
This new policy will take effect for the 2012-2013 school year.
The amendment is part of a larger, long-term effort by archdiocesan schools to enhance the “catholicity” of archdiocesan schools, said Kathy O’Hara.
“The one thing that everyone agreed on was that we should assist families in honoring the Lord’s day and not contribute to things that make it difficult for families to keep that commitment,” said O’Hara.
This policy amendment doesn’t represent a huge change in practice, she said. It’s more symbolic, in that it calls people’s attention to what they should be focusing on in their lives.
There had been some increase in events scheduled for Sundays at his school over the years, but not much, said Joe Passantino, president of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park. Prior to the establishment of the policy, the general practice was to avoid Sunday activities.
“Changing the calendar, like any change, will require adjustments for everyone,” said Passantino. “But both the staff and families appreciate having this one day for family and worship.”