Every morning during Lent – Monday through Saturday – teams of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita, Kansas students gather in the school’s auditorium for their spiritual workout. This Lent marks the God Squad’s fifth anniversary.
Initiated by Father Jarrod Lies, the school’s chaplain, the squad’s intent is “to take the training for spiritual life as seriously as music, sports or other things.” He based the idea on 1 Timothy, 4:7, which encourages us to “train yourself for devotion, for while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.”
Because Fr. Lies is so involved in sports at the high school, he adopted sports terms for the God Squad’s activities. There are “coaches” (chaplain and teachers) who assist in organizing and arranging God Squad events, and “captains” (students who facilitate small groups) who lead prayers and discussion.
Sunday is referred to as “game day,” and the “arena” or “court” is free will. “Studying the playbook” means meditation on scripture. Other translations include “doin’ ropes” (praying the Rosary), “scrimmage (daily Mass) and “huddles” (student led discussion groups).
Team designations carry metaphors as well.
To be on the varsity team, a student must attend “training days” (daily activities) 80 percent of the time. Junior varsity members must participate 50 percent of the time, and C-team members participate without specific accountability. It’s even possible to “letter” in God Squad. Winning a Liturgy and Spirituality letter signifies that the student has made the varsity squad two consecutive years.
Senior Rachel Stanley, a captain, has been on the God Squad for four years. She does it “because it makes such an impact on me and my spiritual life,” she explained. “It would be beneficial to continue while I had the opportunity.”
Printed with permission from the Catholic Advance, newspaper from the Diocese of Wichita.