U.S. Olympian takes her Catholic faith to Tokyo games

US Gymnastics Olympic Team US Gymnastics Olympic Team/ Getty Images

U.S. Olympic gymnast Grace McCallum is bringing both her skills and her Catholic faith to the Tokyo games in July. 

McCallum does not travel anywhere without her rosary and a special cross from her grandmother, the Central Minnesota Catholic magazine reported in 2019. 

“She travels with those things to kind of bring her peace and calm,” her mother, Sandy McCallum, told the magazine.  

At just 18 years old, McCallum is one of six women competing in the Tokyo summer Olympic games this year. She will be competing in the team gymnastics events along with Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, and Jordan Chiles.

Hailing from Isanti, Minnesota, McCallum just recently committed to the University of Utah and will be joining the gymnastics team.

McCallum’s family belongs to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Isanti. They also attend St. Patrick parish in Oak Grove, Minnesota. McCallum’s parents are Sandy and Ed and she has five siblings: Rachael, Madelyn, Joseph, John, and Xavier. 

The McCallum family values the power of prayer. Sandy said that prayer makes a significant difference in Grace’s gymnastics. Sandy said prayer is “one of those areas that we say, ‘Keep her in focus, keep praying’ because it really does make a difference.”

Because of the toughness of the sport, Sandy attests that nothing means more to her daughter than people reaching out saying they are praying for her.

During the 2019 U.S. championships, Grace and her family prayed to St. Philomena, Grace’s confirmation saint. The second day of the championships was August 11, the feast day of St. Philomena. 

Crediting the prayers, Grace earned the bronze medal at the event. Sandy said it “was kind of cool” that Grace’s success happened on her confirmation saint’s feast day.  

Grace said she knows that God gave her this talent. “I need to use it and not waste it,” she said. 

Sandy said that when she travels for competitions with Grace, the only thing that grounds her is going to church. “I find a church nearby because it helps me center myself so I can be there for Grace,” Sandy said. 

McCallum will be rigorously training in her gym for the upcoming games. The Olympic games begin on July 23. The women’s gymnastics events begin on July 25.

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