Faith and sport the ‘matrix’ for strong parishes – expert

Faith and sport the ‘matrix’ for strong parishes – expert Katie Taylor

Faith and sport are “intertwined” to the extent that they are the “matrix” for strong parish communities, a leading physical therapist has claimed.

Gerard Hartmann, who has treated some of the world’s most elite sport stars, made the remarks at a diocesan-run sports conference in Limerick.

“Where we see strong communities you typically see faith and sport being prominent. Together they are the matrix for many great parishes and communities,” he said.

At the conference yesterday evening (Wednesday), taking place ahead of a diocesan synod in Limerick in April, Mr Hartmann also insisted faith plays an important role in sport, particularly for athletes who are attempting to overcome debilitating injuries.


“Individuals who have faith and who are spiritually connected draw on their faith and spirituality to heal and overcome adversity. I have observed that those without faith tend to struggle when confronted with injuries and life’s setbacks.

“With some injuries, time heals, others need a lot of work and commitment. As a physio the challenge is always there to expedite injury time, to help athletes cope through their crisis, to educate them and give them hope, to facilitate the healing process in mind, body and spirit,” the Co. Limerick native said.

Referring to his work with injured athletes, Mr Hartmann said that there are times, irrespective of his best efforts, that “healing has to take place from within”.

“Numerous scientific studies have identified the therapeutic value of prayer in healing. It is recognised that prayer is powerful. Healing induced by having others praying for the sick or injured – positively works. The belief that healing can be transferred through prayer or faith is, in my opinion, very real,” he said.

Katie Taylor

Citing the likes of devout Olympic champion boxer Katie Taylor, Mr Hartmann also claimed “the majority” of athletes spend their final moments prior to competition in prayer.

“Irrespective of race or religious denomination, all great athletes call upon their beliefs and feelings. Prayer and meditation are an integral component of their success.

“Sport and faith inclusive, together they are a powerful combination. Both save, both heal,” he said.