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Athletics Instates The Saint John Paul II Sport and Spirituality Award

April 11, 2014

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – In an effort to strengthen its unwavering tie to the University’s Catholic Mission, the Seton Hall Department of Athletics has announced the institution of a new student-athlete award that has been named The Saint John Paul II Sport and Spirituality Award. The honor will become a part of the program at the annual Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) Awards Banquet with the inaugural award slated to be presented at the upcoming event on Thursday, April 24.

The naming and inaugurating of this annual award also comes at a significant an historic moment in the Roman Catholic Church as on April 27, His Holiness Pope Francis will canonize Pope John Paul II and a predecessor, Pope John XXIII, in a ceremony to be held in St. Peters Basilica in Rome.

Canonization is among the highest honors bestowed by the Church, and symbolizes that the individual being consecrated is held up as worthy of public devotion and veneration because of the holiness of their earthy life.

The significance of this new award and the genesis of its name are derived from the fact that Pope John Paul II was known as the “Athlete Pope.” Along with being an athlete himself who enjoyed skiing and soccer, he penned over 240 addresses and exhortations to athletes, athletic conferences, and international athletic organizations. His themes often centered upon the intrinsic values of athletic participation and competition that can aid in spiritual development along with how humans can grow in virtue using the guide of sportsmanship.

“As a priest and lifelong fan of collegiate sports, it is thrilling for me to watch our student-athletes compete in their various athletic venues but then to also see them participate in their venues of worship,” said Reverend Warren Hall, Director of the Office of Campus Ministry and an avid Seton Hall Athletics supporter who was a driving force behind the creation of the award. “I strongly believe in St. John Paul II’s assessment that an athlete of faith makes for a better athlete and person all-around. I am excited that this new award will be able to highlight this connection at Seton Hall University.”

The vision behind the award is to recognize a senior student-athlete who has displayed exemplary dedication to academics, athletics, faith and service to others throughout their time as a Pirate. Its introduction is the latest in a series of athletics-based initiatives aimed at incorporating the University’s core values, and comes on the heels of the creation of the athletic department’s Helping Athletes Learn to be Leaders (H.A.L.L.) Program which was implemented in 2013 with the focus of enhancing the student-athlete experience. Faith and service are fundamental aspects of the H.A.L.L. Program’s approach to cultivating servant leaders, one which provides student-athletes with an abundance of opportunities to grow as an individual outside of the field of play.

“It is extremely demanding to be a successful student-athlete at this level,” said Director of Athletics Patrick Lyons. “Aside from their athletic commitments, our student-athletes have continued to excel academically and we have a number of young men and women making tremendous contributions in the community; whether it’s spearheading service efforts or participating in international mission trips.”

“Such endeavors are the reason why the Seton Hall name has become synonymous with the type of service that honors and furthers its rich catholic tradition,” he continued. “There’s a lot of rhetoric out there related to how we strive to develop complete student-athletes and when Father Hall brought the idea for this award forward, we immediately saw it as another way to show that those are more than just words; and how much we truly value our student-athletes’ devotion to all areas of what we believe it means to be a representative of this University.”