Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Blanca Morales - Florida Catholic
Photography: BLANCA MORALES | FC
MIAMI | On weekdays they are lawyers, real estate brokers, or architects, among other professions, but on July 21, young adults from the archdiocese came together at Tropical Park as competitors in an afternoon of games.
Divided into co-ed teams of eight, 160 participants played classic field day games such as tug-of-war, human battleship, or ring toss. In all there were 10 games, and a final challenge of relays reserved for the finalists.
The participants — some as young as 21 and others closing out their 30s — hailed from approximately 13 young adult ministries of the archdiocese. Most came from St. Augustine’s young adult group and Pastoral Juvenil Hispana. Each team of four men and four women reserved their spot with a participation fee of $40.
Joining them were 25 volunteer young adults from throughout the archdiocese who served as referees and judges. The participants accumulated points via competition against other teams as well as shows of sportsmanship and “swag,” or team spirit.
Present at the opening of this first Champions Challenge was the Father Andrew Brown Assembly #193 of the Knights of Columbus, whose Color Corp led participants in the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem.
The idea of a Champions Challenge grew out of Ducker Lopez’s stint as director of the University of Miami’s UCatholic Campus Ministry. Each year the students took part in the Catholic Campus Ministry Olympics, playing the same field day-style games, and refereed by young adults of St. Augustine’s YA Ministry.
Geraldine Medina, an architect and parishioner at St. Agatha in Miami, had participated in St. Augustine’s event the year before and said she wouldn’t have missed another opportunity. Her team called themselves Militibus Cristi (Soldiers of Christ).
“What I enjoyed the most was to be able to reconnect and see old friends I traveled with to Brazil [for World Youth Day],” Medina said.
She also had the opportunity to meet new people. “There were two guys in my team that I had never met.”
The Champions Challenge allowed young adults from various parishes in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to come together for a day of fellowship, concluded by a potluck lunch. Though participants belonged to ministries of different languages and different cultural backgrounds, all came together under the banner of the archdiocese — whether or not they were practicing Catholics. The event proved to be an evangelization opportunity that allowed Catholic young adults to invite their non-Catholic friends to hang out in a playful atmosphere.
“There were 160 competitors, a multitude of events, [but] one faith,” said Kristian Mendoza, one of the referees.
At the end, however, only one team took home the Champions prize, a wooden hammer representing St. Joseph the Worker: the Camo Team, whose members were either alumni of Florida International University or St. Augustine parishioners.
Their secret to success? “Definitely prayer,” said team member Rachel Mpanu, humbly shrugging. She and her teammates will hold on to the prize until next year’s competition.