by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Some might have chalked it up to coincidence — others, to luck.
But John McGoldrick believes it was divine providence that brought him to the helm of the Catholic Youth Organization of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.
The CYO board appointed McGoldrick its executive director in mid-August, just weeks before the fall CYO season began.
“I wasn’t looking for the job,” he said. “It kind of found me.”
His brother, James McGoldrick, has been executive director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles CYO for the past eight years.
James was at a meeting this past summer when he coincidentally — or rather, providentially — ran into Peter Piscitello, the former executive director of CYO for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Piscitello mentioned as they visited that his former job had opened up again.
For the past 15 years, John had been working in the Middle East and Central Asia as a U.S. military defense contractor and business partner.
But John and his wife Aby were now looking for a nice stateside community in which to raise their 5-year-old daughter Stella and become involved in a vibrant Catholic community.
So James told John about the opening, and John checked out the job listing on the archdiocesan website and applied. He was familiar with the Kansas City area because he’d been coming here to visit friends for about 20 years.
John got the job — providentially for all concerned, because time was running out like the sand in the Wicked Witch of the West’s enchanted hourglass.
For the summer was almost over, and there was a lot to do before the fall sports season began in September. The CYO board needed someone who could hit the ground running.
“We were brought in really late,” said John. “It has been a very challenging situation.”
Fortunately, in addition to his military, business and international experience, he also brings his experience in youth sports to the job.
John was a varsity high school football coach in northern California for four years and participated in youth sports clubs while he worked overseas.
“I think sports really develops leadership abilities in children,” he said, “and teaches them about teamwork and how to respect one another.
“It teaches them that hard work pays off, and lessons in life that they will use in their lives as they grow older.”
And he is proud to be part of that effort.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of that formation of youth,” he added, “leading them in the right direction of life.”
His said his goal is to “rebrand” CYO while seeking to build on an already great program. John wants more registration, more participation, improved communications and more efficient scheduling.
In addition to John, who belongs to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, CYO has picked up two more people for the new sports year. Rod Murrow, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe, is the new director of operations, and Maureen Goetz, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee, is the new administrative assistant.
Currently, CYO is present in 23 parishes and involves approximately 6,000 children. The backbone of the program is volunteers — the parish-based directors of sports ministries.
And of course, the program would be nothing if not for the families served.
“We really want to energize CYO in the community,” John said. “We want it to be a great option for kids and families again.
“We want to get the message out that this is Catholic-based sports.”