St. Francis Xavier Secondary School has renamed its athletic field after former chaplain Brian Finamore, left, for his indelible impact on the students and the school community. Photo courtesy of Helena Gabbana

Chaplain’s spirit will live on at Finamore Field

By 
  • May 3, 2015

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - St. Francis Xavier Secondary School has renamed its athletic field after former cheering chaplain Brian Finamore.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board approved the catchy name change to Finamore Field to honour the long-time chaplain at the Mississauga school.

“Jesus certainly has a sense of humour because normally athletic fields ...  (are named after) a person who excelled in athletics or who maybe spent a long time coaching,” said Finamore, the 25-year-veteran of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic school board. “As a kid I competed in a lot of sports but I was very average.”

But lacking superb athleticism didn’t stop Finamore — who’s name will appear on the scoreboard at Xavier for years to come — from becoming ingrained in the school’s teams as part of his career year after year.

During the 16 years Finamore served as chaplain to the Xavier students and staff, he was also a fundamental figure on the football field — although he was a little off to the side.

“One of the most important jobs in sports is the spectator, the fan,” he said. “Just like St. Paul says, all of us, we all have a role to play and we all have a gift and if your gift is to cheer and if your gift is to support and if your gift is to encourage ... you are as important as the star on the field. There is a strengthening or an energy that comes from the people who are watching.”

Many die-hard fans liken sporting events to a religious ceremony and Finamore is no different. When a crowd gathers to cheer on their team they are acting as God intended, he said.   

“Healthy team sports gives us a glimpse of what the Holy Spirit is all about. It is not coincidence that before sport events or big games you have a little spirit rally,” he said. “The spirit of the crowd or the spectators is a taste of the Holy Spirit. That turns an ordinary activity into a community building experience and that is what we are called by God to be — a community of believers, a community of brothers and sisters.”

John Kostoff, Dufferin-Peel Catholic’s director of education, praised Finamore for the impact his presence made on the Xavier community.

“Brian Finamore left an indelible mark on the school community during his time there,” he said.

Board chair Mario Pascucci echoed that remark.

“Brian Finamore is a special individual whose impact on Xavier students, families and staff made him a logical choice for this honour,” said Pascucci.

This isn’t the first time the football fanatic’s faithful work has caught the attention of others. In 2009, Finamore received the Central Committee for Catholic School Council’s Volunteer of the Year Award followed by the Halferty Award from the Catholic School Chaplain’s of Ontario in 2013 and the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education’s Father Mazzerolle Award last year.

Even though he is no longer a member of the Xavier Tigers, his chaplaincy calling hasn’t kept him off the field.

“Watching students and staff compete on the field and on the court and all over the place ... has been a really important part of the ministry,” said Finamore, who took over as lead chaplain at Cardinal Leger Secondary School this past September.

“The feeling that you get from being part of a team, even as a fan, is quite awesome. It gives us a real insight into the type of community God kind of calls us to be, to support one another to use our individual talents to the best of our ability to help the common good and not just to help ourselves.”

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