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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

‘Love your Church as your GAA jersey’

A successful Gaelic football manager has called on Catholics to be as proud of their faith as GAA supporters are of their jerseys.

Mickey Harte, the current manager of Tyrone, pointed out the similarities in being a follower of Christ and a fan of a sports team, during a religious conference in Limerick. He noted that the faithful should take as much pride in their beliefs as sports fans do in their teams.

“Why should we not be as proud of our Catholic faith as we are of our club colours? As Catholics we are part of the biggest team in the world and we should be proud of that,” he said.

“We should be able to say, ‘this is who I am and this is what I believe’. In a game there are all sorts of little battles within it. It’s the same in life. Life gives you some challenges and with the help of God you manage it.”

Mr Harte recalled how both the GAA community and his faith had helped him cope with the most challenging time of his life. Within a three-month period Mr Harte had to come to terms with the deaths of his two brothers and the tragic murder of his daughter, Michaela McAreavey, while she was on her honeymoon in Mauritius in January 2011.

“Life wasn’t easy,” he admitted. “You could never have dealt with this on your own. You had to have faith. There had to have been something greater to get you through.

“The community spirit that exists in the GAA is also incredible in times of trouble. For us at that time the club mobilised, the county, even the province. Everyone gave all the support they could to make sure the practicalities had to be done. They just stepped forward in a great Christian spirit of solidarity and support.”

Mr Harte also noted that scandals within the Church could not be used as an excuse for people to give up on God.

“We can’t just take a position that because of those scandals we just don’t bother doing anything, participating in any way. We can’t just say that is the responsibility of the entire Church, because it’s not.”