Please pray for me and my brother priests!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Catholic History of the New Orleans Saints

We hear the phrase "cultural Catholic" and what comes to mind is a person who, while still identifying themselves as Catholic, no longer practices the faith. This is a problem on a host of levels. However, one antidote to that is a Catholic Culture, which is only built by a Catholic people who take their faith seriously.

This culture is composed of Catholics who realize that to be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ is not to simply attend the Holy Mass on Sundays, but to pray with our families and by ourselves. It means Catholics not to relegate religious objects to churches and Christmas decorations, but have pictures and statues of Our Lord and Lady in our homes as we would have of any people who are dear to us. It means that we behave as a Catholic at work, in the ballot box, at a ball game or in a restaurant; it means to think like a Catholic who is informed about and embraces all that the Church teaches about things "seen and unseen," it means that when people think of us, they know immediately that we are a Catholic, and that the faith is not simply important to us, but essential to who we are.

One fruit of this Catholic culture we see in the names we give to those things which are important to us: namely our children and our businesses. Think of all the Francis X. (insert Irish last name here!) and Margaret Marys and Mary Catherines there used to be. I can think of such businesses as "Little Flower Florist," "Domino's Pizza (after the Latin word for Lord) and, here in my area "Trinity Ambulance". We do this because the faith matters, and we with to inculcate our lives, and our society, with the Faith. To live the Catholic culture means to not so much be a member of the Church, but to "be" a Catholic.

This article from the Catholic News Agency about the New Orleans Saints points to a small piece of Catholic Culture. One note not mentioned in the article: the owner of the Saints choose the name "Saints" because he was awarded the NFL franchise on All Saint's Day, 1967. He saw the hand of God and the intercession of His saints in the gift of the franchise, and wanted to honor them through the name of the team. He then went to Archbishop Hannon, the then Archbishop of New Orleans, for his approval, and the rest is history!

May we all want to be in that number, when the saints come marching in!

God love you,
Father V.

The Catholic History of the New Orleans Saints

New Orleans, La., Feb 6, 2010 / 08:04 am (CNA).- As the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts prepare to lock horns in the Super Bowl, CNA spoke with the Archdiocese of New Orleans about the Saints and discovered that the team has a significant Catholic history as well as a strong presence in the local Catholic community.

"In recent years, as Mr. Tom Benson has owned the team, the Saints organization has been very involved with the local Catholic Church and Catholic Charities,” Sarah Comiskey McDonald, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said on Friday. “Mr. Benson is a major donor to our PACE Center (Program for all-inclusive care for the elderly) and our first center was named the Shirley Landry Benson PACE Center at St. Cecilia in memory of his deceased wife.”

"His granddaughter, the team’s executive Vice President, chaired the 2009 Archbishop’s Community Appeal to raise funds locally for the work of Catholic Charities,” she added.
The communications director also commented on the involvement of the team members within the archdiocese.

“Throughout the years, players have been involved in different programs and school visits – recently, Drew Brees visited one of our elementary schools; Reggie Bush has donated several hundred thousand dollars to Holy Rosary Academy and High School, and Scott Fujita, who is adopted, has been an active spokesperson for our adoption services of Catholic Charities,” the archdiocesan spokeswoman said.

“Additionally, Coach Sean Payton, who is Catholic, sends his kids to one of our Catholic schools and appeared in a PSA for the archdiocese on racial harmony.”

The Catholic connections to the New Orleans Saints will be in evidence on the day of the big game as well. Archbishop Gregory Aymond, retired Archbishop Philip Hannan and two Dominican sisters from Cathedral Academy in New Orleans will be attending the Super Bowl this year as guests of the Bensons.

Even the name “Saints” has a Catholic genesis. According to the New Orleans archdiocesan paper, the Clarion Herald, in 1967, the owner of the team approached then-Archbishop Hannan and asked if using the word “Saints” for a football team was sacrilegious. Archbishop Hannan not only loved the idea but wrote an official prayer for the team within that year.

One line of the prayer reads “...Our Heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the 'saints by faith conquered kingdoms...and overcame lions,' grant our Saints an increase of faith and strength so that they will not only overcome the Lions but also the Bears, the Rams, the Giants, and even those awesome people in Green Bay... .”

However, the Colts also have Catholic boosters of their own, including Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis, who called New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond to make a bet about the gridiron match. If the Saints win, Archbishop Aymond will receive southern Indiana pork chops, but if the Colts win Archbishop Buechlein will have gumbo on his dinner table.

When asked if prelates often bet on sporting events, Archbishop Aymond told CNA that “As far as our friendly wager, we cannot say whether it is a norm, but it is all in good fun.”

“The Archbishop of Indianapolis called us to offer the wager, and I look forward to enjoying the pork chops!”

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