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Catholic Olympians

4. March 2010

In the spirit of the recent Olympics, there is good news to share.  You may be surprised to hear that a former US speed skater (Nagano Olympics 1998), Kirstin Holum, now Sister Catherine, is a nun at St. Joseph’s Convent in Leeds, England.

Twelve years ago, when she was Kirstin Holum, she was reaching for her skates instead. In 1998 she competed for the United States at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. After placing sixth in the 3,000-meter and seventh in the 5,000-meter speed skating races, the 17-year-old was recognized as a prodigy racing against older women in their prime.

Instead of continuing her speed skating career, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, an order founded in New York in 1988. In September she arrived in England to work with the poor, with youth and to evangelize. She is a member of a community of four nuns — three American and one English — based in a house that, until last year, was owned and occupied by the Sisters of Mercy.

“I could have gone on” with speed skating, Sister Catherine told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 22 telephone interview. “I was thinking this (Vancouver, British Columbia) could have been my fourth Olympics, but I am so grateful the Lord led me to where I am now.” read more

Another surprise, which admittedly has little to do with Europe, is that the popular gold medal winning figure skater Kim Yu-na and her mother are recent converts to Catholicism.

At the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games held Feb. 12-28 in Canada, South Korea won six gold medals, six silver medals and two bronze medals, ranking seventh in the medal tally.

But the greatest star of them all was Kim who had  won numerous figure skating competitions, becoming a national “icon.”

Many youths thought her rosary ring was an engagement ring and media had to explain its usage and meaning.

Kim was baptized in May 2008, along with her mother. Since then, she has always worn a rosary ring and made the sign of the cross when competing. read more

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