Game, set, God: French athlete trades championship title for abbey life

Elevation of the chalice at a Traditional Latin Mass. / Credit: Wikimedia JoeJ10/CC BY-SA 4.0

CNA Newsroom, Apr 30, 2024 / 11:45 am (CNA).

At the pinnacle of his professional sports career, one French athlete announced his intention to quit volleyball to embrace monastic life at a famous French abbey. 

Ludovic Duée, captain of the Saint-Nazaire volleyball team and recently crowned French champion, shared a deeply personal decision with local media: He has chosen to retire from the sport that brought him fame and success and embark on a new path at the Abbey of Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse.

Duée, 32, confirmed his life-changing move to Ouest-France following his team’s championship victory on April 28.

“This is a decision that stems from the depths of my soul,” Duée said. 

Coming from a practicing Catholic family, he described — according to Catholic newspaper LaCroix — his religious practice as minimal until his encounter with the canons regular of Lagrasse during the COVID-19 pandemic: The monks “were very welcoming and answered all my questions.”

The profound impact of meeting and communicating with the Canons Regular of the Mother of God led Duée to a personal revelation.

“I discovered that God loved me and that he only wanted one thing, for me to love him back,” he said, according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. The transformative experience has set him on a new path to reciprocating that love. 

The Abbey of Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse in the south of France has its origins in the seventh century. Today the monastery, which lies about 400 miles from Paris, is renowned for its adherence to the Traditional Latin Mass.

What is more, this monastery melds liturgical richness with a deep engagement with the local community: The canons are actively engaged in their diocese, contributing to social outreach programs, participating in sports, and providing spiritual and practical support to migrants at the village asylum center.

For now, Duée will live and learn among the canons without yet taking vows: “During the next few months, I will live and breathe the canon regular life. I will experience everything from the inside out to gain a deeper understanding of the community and determine if this is the long-term fit for me, and for them.”

Following the Rule of St. Augustine, the devout Frenchman has embarked on a spiritual journey that may ultimately lead to taking the vows of a novice: After years of personal and theological development, the end goal is to make a permanent commitment as a priest and canon regular.

Relaterte artikler

Tidebønner på St Rita Radio

Søndagsfrø med p. Rafal Ochojski MSF