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Young adults enjoy Champions Challenge

Field games serve as evangelization opportunity for 160 participants in their 20s and 30s

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.

Among the participants at the Champions Challenge were married couples. Here, A.J. and Melissa Tablada, members of the Fiat marriage group for young adults, check their phone during a break.

Photographer: BLANCA MORALES | FC

Among the participants at the Champions Challenge were married couples. Here, A.J. and Melissa Tablada, members of the Fiat marriage group for young adults, check their phone during a break.

This hammer is the trophy for winning the Champions Challenge. The winning team will hold onto it until next year's competition.

Photographer: BLANCA MORALES | FC

This hammer is the trophy for winning the Champions Challenge. The winning team will hold onto it until next year's competition.

A volunteer watches activities on the the field. Her shirt reads in Haitian Creole,

Photographer: BLANCA MORALES | FC

A volunteer watches activities on the the field. Her shirt reads in Haitian Creole, "Jesus I trust in you."

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.

Asis Lopez, a campus minister at Belen Jesuit Prep in Miami, emceed the event, which was organized by his wife, Michelle Ducker Lopez, coordinator of Young Adult Ministry in the archdiocese.

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.

The winning Camo Team pose with their trophies and prize. From left: Jesus Valentino, Yamileth Ayala, Rachel Mpanu, Gaby Soto, Jorge Jimenez, Brian Fernandez, Carlos Rodriguez and Tania Aranacano. One-hundred sixty young adults from throughout the Archdiocese of Miami, divided into co-ed teams with eight members each, took part in the first Champions Challenge, an afternoon of fun and field games that also doubled as an opportunity for fellowship and evangelization. The event took place July 21, 2018 at Tropical Park in Miami.

Photographer: BLANCA MORALES | FC

The winning Camo Team pose with their trophies and prize. From left: Jesus Valentino, Yamileth Ayala, Rachel Mpanu, Gaby Soto, Jorge Jimenez, Brian Fernandez, Carlos Rodriguez and Tania Aranacano. One-hundred sixty young adults from throughout the Archdiocese of Miami, divided into co-ed teams with eight members each, took part in the first Champions Challenge, an afternoon of fun and field games that also doubled as an opportunity for fellowship and evangelization. The event took place July 21, 2018 at Tropical Park in Miami.


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