|From Olympic Athlete to Sister Catherine|
|Written by Sherry|
|Sunday, 14 February 2010 11:10|
Here's a timely story for this Olympic weekend: An Olympic speed-skater, from a family of Olympians, is now a Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal and working among the poor in England.
"Twelve years ago at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, a 17-year-old speedskating prodigy named Kirstin Holum was tapped for future greatness.
When Holum placed sixth in the 3,000 meters – one of the most grueling disciplines in the women’s program, a lung-scraping four-minute bust of lactic acid torture – speedskating insiders predicted a golden future and speculated she may not even reach her peak for another decade."
Holum was born into speedskating royalty. Her mother Dianne was a world-class speedskater who won Olympic gold in 1972 and reached even greater heights as a coach, mentoring the legendary Eric Heiden to his clean sweep at Lake Placid in 1980.
After completing an art degree, including a thesis on the Olympics at the Art Institute of Chicago, Holum joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, a faith with a mission “to work with the poor and homeless and evangelization.”
Based first in New York, Sister Catherine and her fellow nuns stepped on to the mean streets of the Bronx to work with some of the Big Apple’s most underprivileged children in areas steeped in gang culture. Such work and sacrifice in homeless shelters and soup kitchens gave her a deep-rooted sense of satisfaction that skating had never been able to provide.
Last year, missionary work took Sister Catherine to England, where she has found her previous life as an athlete a useful tool in providing some “street cred” when dealing with skeptical youngsters.
“When I give my religious testimonies, it is fun to watch the reaction of the kids when I tell them I was in the Olympics,” she laughed. “Their eyes get really big and they start paying a lot more attention. It is a great thing to share with them and it gives me a lot of pleasure to think back and talk about it.