THE Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Revd Richard Blackburn visited Langtree Park recently to take a tour of the facilities and discuss the vital role of Chaplaincy in Rugby League.
He met with Saints’ chaplains Gaz Tracey and Paul Day, alongside Stadium Operations Manager Mike Rush and Tony Puletua.
Saints have been pioneers in having appointed Chaplains within the club as they address the welfare needs of all players and staff.
Bishop Richard said: “I had a tremendous time visiting St Helens RFC and am delighted with how they have embraced the idea of having a chaplaincy presence.
“I believe that in a pressured, competitive sports environment this level of spiritual, pastoral care for players and staff is extremely positive. I would be interested to see this grow and develop as a vital part of the club’s support for its staff.”
Chaplains have been resident at Saints since 2005 and currently two – Paul Day who looks after the welfare needs of the club’s back office staff, and Gaz Tracey who is involved with the players – are involved on a day to day basis.
“We look after the spiritual and pastoral needs of the club,” Gaz said. “That can range from people who have crises or questions of faith. We are there to help people out as in life there are many opportunities and options and it is often helpful to speak to someone who has their best interests in heart and is independent from the club.
“The RFL are really keen to support the Chaplaincy across the whole of Rugby League and Super League in particular and at Saints we’ve been embraced by the club, value and accepted.
“It’s an important role with the discussions going on within all sport about player welfare and I feel elite sports Chaplaincy will be heavily involved as we move forward with that debate.”
Mike Rush added: “As a club we have seen a steady progression of the role of our chaplains. Working together and drawing on their expertise in areas of pastoral and spiritual care we have begun to see their worth far beyond the initial brief of player welfare set out more than 13 seasons ago.
“Paul and Gaz are now welcomed and accepted colleagues at every level within the club. Their work with us, whilst always going unseen outside of our offices or training ground, continues to be invaluable as we seek to build for the future and everything that may bring.”
Our interview with Gaz Tracey: