Saint Cecilia Makes It to the NBA!

Photo Credit: Detroit Pistons St. Cecilia logo –

Wow!  Can you believe it?  Roman Catholic Saint Cecilia has made it to the National Basketball Association in America!!  How could a saint who is the patron of music in the Catholic Church and a martyr from way back in the third century make it to the National Basketball Association?  Seems so improbable but it’s true.

Imagine my surprise when I heard an announcer on NPR state that St. Cecilia is now in the NBA and a design of the Church window from a church named for her will be worn on the Detroit Pistons’ jersey for several games this winter. 

That’s quite a leap, a slam dunk for sure!!

Now, how did a sweet young wife who was martyred for the faith get this honor?  Well, according to her story, she had commissioned beautiful music for her wedding and demonstrated a deep love for music, especially as a form of prayer and praising God.  In every religious community of women that I know of, every sister bearing some form of Cecilia’s name, is involved in music.  They play sonorous organ music for religious services, or they teach music or choral music or liturgical dance.  You name it for music, and the Cecilias of the world are pumping out the tunes for us.  I know a priest who took flute lessons after he was made pastor of Saint Cecilia’s Parish in Cleveland.  He also encouraged a youth rock group to start under Saint Cecilia’s aegis.  If you do a search of great composers over many centuries, you will see that almost every one of them composed something in honor of St. Cecilia.

But basketball?

It turns out that Detroit’s Saint Cecilia Parish sponsored youth sports vigorously in an attempt to keep kids occupied and off the perilous streets in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.  Pretty soon the gym in the parish became a haven for kids with hoop dreams.  It spawned some great future players, Isaiah Thomas, to name one.  These kids did well because they were safe, and they loved the game.  So, in many ways, Saint Cecilia is responsible for poor kids becoming great men in sports.  Why not acknowledge her influence?  Today the gym is known as “The Saint Facility” in Ceciliaville, the property of the parish.  It’s famous slogan glares from the floor on center court: “Where Stars Are Made, Not Born.”  The parish’s name has changed from St. Cecilia to St. Charles Lwanga, an African martyr for the faith.  But the theme of St. Cecilia is strong and when the gym showed signs of much-needed updating, associations like Five Star Basketball and SLAM pledged $250,000 toward renovations.  Then, along came the Knight Foundation and the Piston Foundation with grants adding to the total cost coverage.  Finally, the Pistons added the artistic rendering of the St. Cecilia Church’s famous window as a logo for their jerseys for at least six games this season.  Never before has a religious symbol made it to a professional sport’s team’s world. 

I’m sure Saint Cecilia feels just fine about all this.  Her charism is extended from music to sports and I’m guessing she is happily moving from the organ to the court having such fun singing, skipping, piping, dribbling all in the praise of the Creator.  She is delighted that her patronage is helping youngsters have fun while nourishing their dreams as future NBA players.

Way to go Cecilia!  It seems that the youngsters playing in the “Saint” gym know all about St. Cecilia and that she can hear their prayers and intercede for them.  This is an amazing way to teach prayer and faith.


The pastor of the now St. Charles Parish spoke eloquently about the effect that a caring, well-organized religious group can have for underserved people.  He has witnessed so much good coming from the parish’s gym over the years and loves the fact that St. Cecilia is getting wonderful media attention for her patronage through the Pistons’ organization.  He said the parishioners and the kids, of all religions, learn something about how the faith needs to be welcoming and loving, avoiding divisiveness and intolerance.  He pointed out that good sportsmanship is like religion where we encourage our best and work on our weaknesses and end with a handshake.  

What struck you as you read this piece today? What simple activities can you join to help others realize their dreams? What can you offer to do for others? Why not dream big on this challenge—just like kids do when dreaming of their futures?

God bless you in this new year, all my readers and my Anonymous Angels.  I hope you can tell me that you had a reflective time as the old year slipped into history and the new year was knocking on your door.  Open it wide.   Let in adventure, joy, risk-taking, and most of all—a love of the God who wants us all to have fun living in praise of this marvelous, loving God!

5 thoughts on “Saint Cecilia Makes It to the NBA!

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  1. My mother went all 12 years of school at St Cecelia. She learned to play piano from the Sisters and enjoyed playing all her life.. About 20 years a go I went back to to see the beautiful church and get a copy of my parents Marriage certificate. So glad to hear it is still vibrant.


    1. Very happy to receive your comment Maureen. You have wonderful memories of the past glories of Sr. Cecilia’s. I was very pleased to learn of the parish’s commitment to the neighborhood and to the youth they serve. What a great model that penetrates even professional sports. S. MAF


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Kimberly Novak, Author

Creating Gems of Inspiration - All for the Glory of God

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