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The Dynamic Duo (1947-1960)

The Dynamic Duo (1947-1960)

Dozens perhaps hundreds or even thousands of dedicated men and women can, no doubt, be given some of the credit for the success of the CYC. However in the eyes of this writer, no two people are more responsible for the good works of the organization than Reverend Monsignor Lloyd A. Sullivan and Reverend Monsignor Louis F. Meyer. This pair of parish priests established over the course of a dozen years the infrastructure of an organization that now reaches the majority of the Catholic families of this great Archdiocese. One needs to remember that this history is only part of the CYC story, the athletic program.

This agency has, over these past seven decades developed and executed hundreds of programs and events designed to reach children, youth, young adult and adult leaders. Catholic Boy Scouting, Catholic Girl Scouting, leadership development, youth retreats, resident, school and special camping, appreciation of the arts and personal and social development programs have been a part of the CYC menu since before World War II. These programs were designed specifically to bring awareness of societal and personal issues they deal with on a daily basis ranging from spiritual growth, drugs, race, cultural differences and community responsibilities and to a vehicle by which they strengthen their faith. The story of the impact of these CYC contributions will be told in later installments.

The good fathers; Sullivan and Meyer were at the forefront of major development and growth of the CYC through the post war era of the late forties and the 1950’s. With the help of dozens of the young (and young at heart) priests of the Archdiocese, literally thousands of adult volunteers and a few good “sponsors” and “angels” the CYC experienced terrific expansion over the bakers dozen years of their collaboration.

CYC Boxing in the 1950sIn addition to the staples such as baseball, softball, basketball and of course the “king of the hill” and every other St. Louis neighborhood, soccer, the CYC added volleyball, track, table tennis, bowling and ever-so-briefly boxing to their sports agenda. All of these programs were available to the parish youth and young adults of the St. Louis Archdiocese.

In the mid 1950’s the CYC began sponsorship of International Soccer matches that brought world class teams from England, France and Scotland to St. Louis to play teams of CYC soccer All-Stars, made up from our Sunday afternoon recreational clubs. While usually outscored by 3 or 4 goals these matches presented a unique opportunity for our players, coaches and fans, both young and old to experience some of the greatest teams and individuals ever to play in the United States. Many of the staff and volunteers of the CYC had a deep rooted passion for the game and saw these events as a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn from the best. These exhibitions helped spark a new and enthusiastic response for the game that had like no other become synonymous with the CYC sports program.

The CYC and young people throughout the Archdiocese lost a great friend and advocate on April 5, 1955 with the passing of Father Charles Maxwell. Fathers contributions to this program should never be forgotten and the program he set in motion can never to allowed to diminish. His vision, determination and devotion to the children and the church remain the very foundation of the CYC. His credo of ” No one stands so straight as when he stoops to help a child” remains at the core of all we do at the CYC.

Coin Toss at a Friendly Soccer MatchThe CYC hosted it’s first Sports Banquet in 1956 in connection with the International matches. This allowed the agency an opportunity to meet up close the international players and coaches while at the same time recognize the efforts of the parish volunteers. Sports awards named after some of our founders like Father Malloy, Monsignor Dooley, Father Maxwell and others were presented to coaches, parish leaders and members of the clergy who represented all of our great adult contributors.

It was during 1959 that the leadership of the Catholic Youth Council , which had been a member of Catholic Charities decided to join the United Fund of Greater St. Louis. The hope was that this move would allow for additional expansion of youth programs by providing some funding for non-religious based programs. The shift proved beneficial to both the CYC and the United Way as they began a 45 year partnership in providing for the youth of St. Louis.

In May of 1960 Father Louis Meyer was named as the new Director of the CYC, replacing his long-time friend and mentor Monsignor Lloyd Sullivan. Under their combine efforts these two men directed and overseen a tremendous growth in the program that had begun less than two decades before. At the end of their tour together the annual participation had grown from 7500 + to over 25,000 in athletics alone. All of this phenomenal expansion was accomplished under the umbrella of our Catholic faith and in the shadow of our Church.

Denny Handley is the Sr. Manager of Media, Marketing, and Technology for the Department of Evangelization and Parish Ministry Support in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He's a husband, father, musician, and a true coffee nerd.

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