Why I Would Love to Be the Chaplain of the Green Bay Packers

Why I Would Love to Be the Chaplain of the Green Bay Packers

Why I Would Love to Be the Chaplain of the Green Bay Packers

(I’m “half-joking” about this. “Half” joking. 🙂 )

In 2019, I became aware that the Green Bay Packers started donating to Planned Parenthood. I was already disappointed with the “kneeling to the god of wokeness” that was going on. From that moment on, I did something that was extremely hard for me … I boycotted the Packers and, instead, I spent each game time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for a transformation of my beloved Green Bay Packers. I even wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Packer Foundation (See HERE). We never heard a peep from the Green Bay Packers about any of this.

It was the last game of the year, in 2021, that I was made aware that the Packers made a complete 180. The new report from the Packer Foundation saw that, instead of donating to Planned Parenthood, they were now donating to Pro-Life organizations, and even Catholic parishes. Praise God!

If that wasn’t enough, all of the “devotion to wokeness” seemed to become completely undone, as we are now seeing our own Aaron Rodgers, once the leader of the woke, come out in rebellion to “all things woke.” Always hope! Never give up!

My love for the Green Bay Packers runs very deep …

In 1997, I was a Parochial Vicar in Janesville, WI (home and parish of Speaker Paul Ryan). The Packers and Brett Favre were making everyone a Packer fan, as they had just come off a Super Bowl win from the previous season. I was a lifelong Packer fan. I was an impressionable young boy during the Lombardi era. In fact, I took Jerry Kramer’s number 64 in high school, and went on to make Wisconsin All-State Football honors in my senior year. Even my present email address has Jerry Kraemer’s number 64. I had every intention to become a Packer football player, until a career-ending neck injury sidelined me in my first year of college. I joke that “God broke my neck” to change my direction.

Caught up in the Brett Favre/Green Bay Packer enthusiasm, at the beginning of the 1997 season, after the final blessing at Mass, I would say, “1,2,3” and the congregation would respond, “Go Packers!” Then the Packers would win. The second week of the season, I had to go out of town, and the Packers lost. Members of the parish half-joked, “Don’t do that again … we need to say ‘Go Packers’ so they win.” Three weeks later, I had to go out of town again, and the Packers had their second loss. Now members of the parish seemed to put joking aside, and said, “Don’t leave!” Five wins later, I had to go out of town again, and they lost. I had a local reporter of the Janesville Gazette in my pews, and he thought it was a cute story to print. He did, and the New York Times picked up the story. So, on the last game of the season, ABC, NBC and CBS set up their cameras in our choir loft, so they could film the “Go Packers” cheer at the end of Mass. We did it, and the Packers won, and they were off to the playoffs. By this time, I was dubbed, “The Packer Priest.”

While I was around for the Division Championship game and the NFC Championship game, I had scheduled a sabbatical in Rome, and so I was not around for the Super Bowl. They lost. 😉

Prior to leaving for Rome, though, I got in on a deal where the Packers were offering one share of stock to any fan who wanted to purchase it. Of course I did, but it did not arrive before I left for Rome. Yes, Packers, “I still own you!” 😉

While in Rome, on February 2, 1998, I had the experience that changed my life as a priest forever. It was the Feast of the Presentation. It was my 10th anniversary sabbatical, and I was studying in Rome for three months, at the time. All of us priests studying at North American College received a beautiful engraved invitation to, what was for me, my first Papal Mass, and we were thrilled to be going. We were told that we should go two hours ahead of time, if we hoped for a good seat. I joked that I don’t go that early for anything, even for the pope.

We arrived about 30 minutes before Mass, and they were right … there was no hope for a seat, and we were destined to stand in the back (which was about a city block away, in that huge Basilica). With five minutes to go, an usher looked over at a priest friend and me. Now realize, there were 100s of priests there. He signaled for us to come over to him. He proceeded to take us up the aisle. He kept going and going and going, until we got to the two front rows reserved for Bishops and Cardinals … the only rows with velvet kneelers. He motioned for us to sit there. To this day, I have no clue why he singled us out, amongst the 100s of priests in attendance, to sit in front with the Cardinals.

There we were in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, about to pray with the Vicar of Christ. As Mass began, glorious “sacred” music filled the Basilica … and my soul. Of course, being a Papal Mass, there was great attention given to precision (like a military Honor Guard), which struck me as “beautiful order” and honor due to the Majesty of God. But, it was more than that. While I had always loved the Mass, I felt, maybe for the first time, that we were truly “glorifying” God. On that day, February 2, 1998, I was truly changed.

I began to ask myself, “What have I been doing?” I had spent the first ten years of my priesthood buying into the common notion that, if we create all kinds of trendy nuances to the Mass, while we kept the Mass as whimsical and entertaining as possible, people would hear about how “cool” and “fun” and “with the times” we were, and come running. Things like “Go Packers” at the end of Mass. We were treating the Mass as a commodity that we needed to somehow market to the world. Worse than anything, I realized we were all but throwing out any sense of divinity; any sense of the supernatural. Where, in all of this, was any sense of awe and wonder in God’s presence? Where was the sense of God’s glory and majesty?

Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.”

What happened to me that day, February 2, 1998?

Bishop Robert Barron wrote about it this way:

You need fear of the Lord, which does not mean that you are afraid of God. It means that nothing to you is more important than God, that everything in your life centers around and is subordinate to your love for God. And your equipping needs to include piety. That means that you honor God above everything else, that you worship him alone. These spiritual gifts enable you to find true balance; they allow you to know what your life is about.

 

Equipped with these gifts, you are ready for mission. Having received the fire of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to set the world on fire.

YES!! On that day, I came to understand that we have removed the very gateway into the Divine Life. On that day I came to understand that everything, and I mean “EVERYTHING” depends upon our openness to receive this “gateway” Gift of Fear of the Lord (Awe & Wonder). I came to understand that if we ever hope to see any real revival in the Catholic Church, the first priority of every priest must be to assist our flocks in opening themselves to this “Gateway Gift.” So, YES, sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music and sacred Masses must, must, must be the highest priority of every priest!! We simply must lead our sheep through the gate to the verdant pastures and restful waters of God’s Amazing Grace!!

So, why I do I speak about my transformation in an article about the Green Bay Packers? Here’s why …

A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to speak to a men’s group. I planned to tell the story of my conversion at the Papal Mass on the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, 1998. I figured they were all Green Bay Packer fans, so I thought it would be fun to show them the Packer stock certificate I received that same year. It was then that I looked closely at the date on the stock certificate. Look for yourself. It wasn’t just the same year of my conversion to the supernatural life, but the exact day of my transformation, February 2, 1998!! WOW!!! God has such an amazing sense of humor. Could it mean God is a Packer fan?! I’m “half” joking. 😉

 

GBPackerStockCert

Category Heart, Latest Posts, Mind, Soul