One of the many ideas which surfaced during the process leading up to the June 6-8, 2014, Archdiocesan Synod was termed “Taking Back Sunday.”

An attempt to “reclaim the Sabbath,” it was suggested during district gatherings that the archdiocese identify Sundays as “Family Days” with time set aside for worship and the family meal.

One of the “innovative ideas” listed in the marriage and family concerns section of the synod’s booklet stated: “This would include eliminating all grade school and high school sports related activities on Sunday, promoting family-centered activities and joining with other denominations to pledge to do all shopping during the week rather than on the Sabbath.”

A noble suggestion, for sure.

Who can argue with the importance of family together time and the need to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” — the third commandment?

Yet, the proposal to eliminate all grade school and high school sports related activities on Sunday caught my attention!

As the mother of three daughters who have been involved in athletics through their time in Catholic elementary and high school, I know well the hecticness that sports adds to family life.

We spent many a Sunday afternoon watching basketball, volleyball and even rugby.

To establish guidelines where those activities are eliminated completely is extreme, since those weekend games were the focal point for much of our family together time through the years.

I certainly understand the need to allow families to fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation without athletics interfering. But the archdiocesan guidelines already in place for elementary schools — guidelines that don’t allow organized athletic activities before noon on Sundays — address the issue of ensuring that families can worship together.

While this “innovative idea” was not adopted in its original form in the synodal declaration, a version of it was: “Develop strategies to help families with the ‘busyness’ of family life and ways to strengthen their focus on the importance of faith in their families.”

This proposed idea relating to athletics led to our feature story on the role of sports and sportsmanship in family life on Pages 8 and 9 of this edition of Catholic Herald Family. Reporter Steve Wideman takes a look at the role faith plays in athletics and also looks at the ways Catholic schools encourage their student athletes to make sure that faith is a central part of their lives on and off the field.

In this way, at least for the teams featured, athletics does not detract from family together time and faith time, but becomes a vehicle to help the athletes and their families live out their faith.

Another feature this month, also a direct result of the Archdiocesan Synod, is Grace Mazza Urbanski’s column, “Whispers in the Pew.” The feature, on Page 6, is the first in a six-part series that Urbanski will write as an effort to help readers understand the Mass.

One of the priorities that surfaced through the synod is evangelization, and through this series, Urbanski hopes to help parents gain a better understanding of the Mass so that they in turn can pass that on to their children. In other words, evangelize their children.

Finally, this month we introduce you to another new columnist. However, for longtime readers of Catholic Herald Family, you’ll probably feel like you already know him.

Liam Scobey-Polacheck, a senior at Dominican High School, is the latest member of the Scobey-Polacheck family to contribute his views on family life. His writing is as thoughtful as his mother’s and older brother, Jacob’s, and I’m sure you’ll find his inaugural piece to be as heartwarming as so many of their contributions. Enjoy his insights on Page 3!