Catholic Youth Organization in Portland announced Sept. 30 that it has canceled the winter sports season, including a massive basketball program that normally highlights the year for about 3,500 young people.

During the pandemic, Catholic schools are using gymnasiums for extra classroom space to keep distance between students. That leaves no room in gyms for sports.

In August, CYO canceled the fall sports season. The organization then surveyed Catholic schools and found out that gyms would be in use through the winter.

“We understand and believe it is very important at this time to support the needs of our Catholic schools and help them restart and be successful,” Sister Krista von Borstel, executive director of CYO/Camp Howard, said in a letter to supporters.

“As I listen to constituents around the city, it is so very clear to me how painful these days are for our schools and community,” Sister Krista wrote, explaining that CYO/Camp Howard depends on strong Catholic schools. “We are so blessed to have our wonderful Catholic schools, and I pray for them every day that they will be successful in maneuvering through these trying times.”

Sister Krista, a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon, said the plan is to offer track and field in the spring.

“I read recently, ‘You see the real character of an institution during difficult times,’” she wrote. “I am so proud of all who work in our Catholic institutions, especially our schools. I know that all of you are having to dig deeper and stretch further than you have had to in a long time.”

CYO furloughed its staff.

“It is important that we continue to keep our faith, humor and love for one another through the pandemic,” Sister Krista said. “We will eventually emerge and all be better people for what we have endured together.”