Before achieving first and tens at Super Bowl XLVIII, members of the Denver Broncos will come together to honor the third of 10. The third of 10 Commandments that is: keep holy the Sabbath.
The evening before the AFC champs take on the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Feb. 2, members of the Broncos’ organization will gather for Mass at the team hotel in Jersey City, N.J., celebrated by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who’s traveling East to support the team.
“(Defensive coordinator) Jack and Linda Del Rio invited me to attend the game with their family and to say Mass for the team,” Archbishop Aquila told the Denver Catholic Register. “I have been edified by the example of many NFL athletes and coaches and their families who make the effort throughout the football season to attend Sunday Mass.”
When traveling during the season, local priests are requested to say Mass. When at home, Jesuit Father Philip Steele, president of Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School, celebrates a private Mass for the team. The Jesuit community at Regis has ministered to the Broncos for more than 20 years. Father Steele also travels with the team for one away game each year, but will sit this one out, supporting the team from home and watching the game with his sister.
“It’s probably better this way,” Father Steele said. “My home record is quite a bit better than my away record.”
During the pregame Mass in Jersey, while some pray for victory—and others for guidance, strength, health, healing and their many other intentions—all will have the opportunity to pause from the business of Super Bowl preparations to listen to God’s word, express gratitude, be nourished by the Eucharist, and hear a message from their home shepherd.
So what will that message be?
“I am sure many people are wondering what I will say to the Broncos in my homily,” Archbishop Aquila said. “But all I can say is that the Holy Spirit will guide me as he wishes.
“What I do know, is that during the game I will be cheering for a Broncos victory!”
The archbishop enjoys sports and is a “long-time Broncos’ fan from when I went to school at CU Boulder,” he said.
Archbishop Aquila graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1972, prior to starting priestly formation at St. Thomas Seminary (now St. John Vianney Theological Seminary).
“Even when I was bishop of Fargo,” he added. “I followed and rooted for the Broncos.”
Archbishop Aquila served as bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, N.D. from 2001 until his appointment to Denver in May 2012. Prior to the Fargo appointment, he served in Colorado for 25 years following his 1976 ordination at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.