Raiders make it all the way to the Vatican

James Parker, Archbisop V & Mons Woods.

James Parker, Cardinal Ravasi & Mons Woods with the Raiders jersey

Monsignor John Woods, Priest of St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra and Chaplain to the Canberra Raiders rugby team, attended the inaugural Sport at the Service of Humanity conference at the Vatican in October.

The conference was the first global conference on faith and sport, with the Vatican hosting representatives from across the world to affirm the power of sport for human good.

The purpose of the Conference was to unite people from every faith, nationality and culture through sport, in a common goal: To help the ones who need it most, especially the marginalised and the disadvantaged, and to encourage everyone to develop their life skills, character, values, and enjoyment of life itself, through sport.

Mons Woods’ experience will inform the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life who are in the process of establishing a working group to articulate a framework for a future Advisory Group on Sport & Health within the Bishops Conference.

Mons Woods presented a Canberra Raiders jersey to Cardinal Ravasi, Head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the body responsible for organising and hosting the conference.

The jersey was custom printed for Pope Francis with ‘Bergoglio’ on the back; the Holy Father’s surname. Monsignor Woods said Cardinal Ravasi appreciated the presentation and would pass on the jersey to Pope Francis.

“Cardinal Ravasi had a big smile on his face when he saw the name ‘Bergoglio’ on the back of the jersey and it was wonderful to be able to show my support for the Raiders at this huge sporting conference,” Monsignor Woods said. “The conference had some huge sporting stars from across the globe including Rugby Union representatives Sean Fitzpatrick and Hugo Porta, former All Blacks and Argentine/Pumas Captains and in fact Sean Fitzpatrick was telling me that Mal Meninga was a hero of his.”

Ms Melissa Hitchman and Mons John Woods.

Ms Melissa Hitchman and Mons John Woods.

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Her Excellency Melissa Hitchman, hosted Monsignor John Woods to brief the diplomatic corps gathered at the Australian Embassy following the Vatican’s ‘Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference‘, 5-7 October 2016.  

The Ambassador was a St Clare’s College, Canberra student (1977-1982 and Vice-Captain 1982) at the time Fr Woods assisted at the College. Two of her daughters attended the College and a third is expected to do so at the end of her posting.

Further information about the 2016 Conference, Sport at the Service of Humanity, can be found on the website,

Source :
Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life