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Fr. Chuck Dornquast has been serving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for eight years. And in his time, he’s gotten to know the players, the game, and their lifestyle, which isn’t always as easy as it may seem.
In what he describes as a “powerful experience,” the sports-minded priest shared with The Spectrum his thoughts on the sacrifice the game entails:
These guys sacrifice for one another. Their families sacrifice for the sake of the team. And so, to the extent that I’m able to assist them in that, to be a presence for them, is really a great gift.”
He also went on to share how his job helps the players off the field, too:
“These guys, they work on Sundays so they don’t get to be tied into parishes like they typically would. So when they have a family crisis, when there is something difficult happening at home, or when they’re looking to get married or get a kid baptized, they reach out to me.”
While Fr. Dornquast has been on the sidelines watching the team win — including a Super Bowl victory — he’s also witnessed a number of defeats. And it is being there for the good and the bad times that makes his job so important. He’s a constant in the players’ lives, offering continued spiritual support and hope.
Interestingly, the chaplain also spoke of the players’ need for faith, due to the tremendous pressure they have to deal with in the sport. And this is where he can really see the benefit of his faith, and how it affects the players when they are open to living it, too.
When someone lives in that place, there’s so much more confidence, so much more peace, so much more joy, there’s ultimately so much more generosity. When someone feels invested and cared for, it sets them in the place where they can then care and invest and love others.”
You can hear more about the chaplain’s experience as a football chaplain, and how he got to be there, in a video shared by the Knights of Columbus below: