Saints win a sign of hope for New Orleans

By  Peter Finney Jr., Catholic News Service
  • February 12, 2010
{mosimage}NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond said the New Orleans Saints’ win in Super Bowl XLIV was “not just a football victory.”

“I think it’s another sign of hope in that our rebuilding is not just a possibility — it’s a reality,” the New Orleans native said after the underdog Saints, playing in their first Super Bowl, won in a 31-17 comeback over the Indianapolis Colts.

“The spirit of the city has changed. It’s another sign that God is faithful.”

Aymond celebrated a Mass for New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, and relatives, friends and team officials at their Miami hotel before the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

“All week long, people have been asking me, ‘Who will win the Super Bowl?’ ” the archbishop told the 300-member congregation, all dressed in Saints’ black and gold.

“And it’s obvious, of course. History gives us a glimpse as to the answer. We know historically that many of the saints of old went into battle for the faith. And when they did so, they rode on colts. In the battle, the colts got wounded, but the saints had victory in eternal life. So, the Saints will win.”

Those at the Mass included retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip Hannan, 96, two Dominican sisters from St. Louis Cathedral Academy in New Orleans and several other clergy and religious invited to the game by Benson.

Citing the readings of the day, Aymond said Jesus sometimes gave the Apostles “odd” advice, such as to cast their nets into the deep even though they had caught nothing all night.

“We are to persevere and to go the extra mile or two and to have hope,” Aymond said. “Is that not the story of Tom Benson and the Saints? ... There are times when part of our lives look like an empty net, and yet Jesus says, ‘Go out into the deep, don’t give up hope, persevere, let God direct you.’ ”

The Mass ended with a rousing a capella rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Aymond and Hannan, who recited the invocation at the Saints’ first regular-season game in 1967, watched Super Bowl XLIV from Benson’s private suite, along with Dominican Sisters Mary Rose Bingham and Mary Andrew Hession. Also attending the game at Benson’s request were Jesuit Fathers Kevin Wildes and James Carter, the current and past presidents of Loyola University New Orleans, respectively, and Msgr. Ken Hedrick, former rector of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

Aymond said he was thrilled that his prediction had come true.

“Wow, what a great gift to the Saints, to Mr. Benson and to the city,” Aymond said. “We’re just so grateful that they made us very proud. All we can say is, ‘Bless you, boys. Bless you for representing our city very well.’ ”

Aymond admitted there were moments, especially when the Saints fell behind 10-0, when he was concerned that this would not be the Saints’ year to erase decades of football misery.

“Then the game was getting closer and closer, and then I thought I was having a heart attack,” Aymond said. “Then someone turned to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, one of the persons sitting over there is a 
cardiologist.’ ”

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.