I’m not much of a football fan, but I usually find myself watching the Superbowl every year. It provides an excuse for a party, after all, and that means snacks. This year I was rooting for the Saints, mainly because they were the underdogs and have never taken home the Lombardi trophy. (Plus, I like saints more than horses.)
According to this Catholic News Agency article, the Saints are strongly connected to the Church in New Orleans:
“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.”
Mr. Benson’s family members are deeply involved in helping the Catholic Church in New Orleans, and various team members have given time and money to schools and ministries.
The name “Saints” apparently harkens back to 1967 when the team’s owner approached the Archbishop and asked if it was sacrilegious to use the word saints for a football team. The Archbishop heartily approved and even wrote an official prayer for team that year that included these words:
“…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… .”
The CNA article also notes that the Indianapolis Colts have their own fans in the Church. In fact, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond made a bet on the game:
…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.”
Maybe Archbishop Aymond will invite the Saints over for Indiana pork chops.