Football is a Religion; Inside a Religion


Posted Mon, Sep 23, 2013

Father McGrath at Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish Photo Courtesy:

Fighting Irish fan, Father Sean McGrath at Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish
[Photo Courtesy:]

LITTLETON, Colo. When you ask anyone what they enjoy the most on Sundays, you will hear, “Watching football” over, “Attending church” a lot more. It’s not a bad thing, unless you’re a priest who’s overshadowed by smart phones lights resembling the stairway to heaven during the homily.

“It is funny to see the outcome of Saturday Masses when the Broncos have a game on Sunday,” says Father Sean McGrath of Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish, 6673 W Chatfield Ave. “The whole church will be packed. Once Sunday comes, I am literally preaching to the choir.”

Father McGrath is an avid football fan, who enjoys his college football team, Notre Dame. The tough sacrifices McGrath has to make when it comes to missing a game because of his duties and work. So many weddings occur on a Saturday, McGrath knows the groom understands how it feels having to miss a game.

“I am constantly missing the Notre Dame game,” McGrath says. “I am involved in a great church, when people are receiving the communion, they always give me updates on the game. I’m not sure if I should thank them, or skull them for being on their cell phones during Mass. I sure hope people planned ahead when coming to confession on Saturdays if the Fighting Irish lost. They may end up with a harsh penance.”

Churches have had years of experience knowing that people plan their lives around Sunday football, that they too control their schedules around the Bronco schedule. All youth groups and guest speakers, for St. Frances Cabrini Parish, are never held during a Bronco game if they expect a big enough crowd to have an impact. Luckily they don’t suffer from any financial decrease during football season. They only see the donation at different times of the weekend than usual.

Priorities are different as well, according to McGrath. He routinely experiences people asking him to pray for the Broncos. It is a fun joke to have, but deep down he knows they are not serious. Sunday church clothes are a thing of the past. It is now a favorite fashion trend to attend Mass in your Bronco gear, as if you are preparing to find a seat at a game rather than a seat in your favorite pew. Thanks to technology, the game is live just at your fingertips. You may think only God is watching, but so is the priest

“I do notice all the lights from people’s cell phones,” Mcgrath says. “And I can hear the small cheers and jeers during a moment in the game. If the Broncos have an afternoon game too, people will walk in 15-20 minutes late depending on when the game ends. I do appreciate them showing up better late than never.”

Attending church can be said to be a good thing to start your week, help you become a better person and be more holy. A wonderful thing about Catholicism is you are forgiven for your sins — if you pray for mercy. Having football as a high priority in your life can’t be all that bad. God has to be a football fan also, why else would there be games on Sunday?



About Shawn-Michael Martin

Shawn Martin is a Denver-area journalist.

View all posts by Shawn-Michael Martin

2 Responses to “Football is a Religion; Inside a Religion”

  1. Ashley Says:

    This is such a cool article and great angle on football season.


  2. Robert Crew Says:

    I like this article a lot. Its really funny and at church I have heard people pray for their football teams before.
    There is a part in your lead that might be a little redundant. “Watching football” over, “Attending church” a lot more.
    I think maybe it would read better if you said “watching football,” a lot more often than “attending church.”


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