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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sound of Silent Soccer

REMEMBER not too long ago when summer afternoons and evenings at the Knoll carried the noises of soccer games from the lower field? To be sure not all were thrilled with the sounds of laughter and life that interrupted their perpetual naps or contemplation of eternal truths. But to many of us, it was great having people around. It was an example of sound stewardship. After all, our soccer and softball days are long past but at least we were good neighbors. Maryknoll was an inviting and hospitable place.

For many years, IBM employees used to play soccer in our field, as did the kids from AYSO. Now, nothing. One man gamely suggested summer was too hot to play and the people with pulses would return once the weather cooled. Alas, I tend to agree with a more sobering assessment: our lawyers and insurers said no.

I should have titled this post "Don't Get Me Started" for that is surely one of my pet peeves (the only pet besides Hopi that guys seem to enjoy). I appreciate that in our litigious society and as a Catholic entity we must be doubly cautious of accidents among our guests, but there must be a better, middle way other than all or nothing.

Groups that come to the Knoll for overnight workshops or retreats must bring a certificate of insurance showing they are covered by their sponsoring diocese or parish.

Don't IBM and AYSO have insurance? Can't they sign waivers?

But here's the kicker: our lawyers and insurers (all honorable people) have been exercising veto power on more things than just soccer by outsiders. To my knowledge they are lay people. So lay people can, in fact, make decisions for clerics as long as we clerics are too apathetic to question or to negotiate a compromise. Or are we hiding behind our lawyers to justify unpopular decisions we don't want openly discussed?

And so, slowly but surely, crowds diminish and disappear from Maryknoll and all signs of outside interest vanish.


  1. Just FYI, this afternoon I heard the familiar sound of youth soccer outside my window. Alas, it was coming from the elementary school across the road from the Society Center. I checked the local AYSO website, and as far as I could tell Maryknoll is no longer listed on any of the game schedules. One can't imagine how safe I feel now that Maryknoll has become the institutional equivalent of the mean old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to STAY OFF MY OF LAWN.