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Keeping the Faith: Salesian Sisters Pray for the Spurs

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/30/15

From ESPN:

When they put Sister Rosalba Garcia in the hospice section of the Salesian Sisters at Provincial House on the west side of this diverse Texas city, the chaplain came to visit. “All his questions were pertaining to her,” explained Sister Martina Ponce, “but all of her answers were on the Spurs. And she kept saying how [Gregg Popovich] was such a good coach because he guides and he helps. “She was describing just what happens on that court. And finally, the chaplain just gave up — and she kept on going with the Spurs.” These days, the Spurs are just about the only thing that cuts through her Alzheimer’s haze. Garcia no longer pulls on her jersey for games, pushes her walker with the Spurs banner or squeezes her coyote mascot. Fortunately, there are more than a few sisters who have stepped into the void. They are not above yelling, screaming and even questioning calls against their Spurs. “Oh, we’re human,” insisted Sister Juanita Chavez. “We’re very human.” Technically, the 37 sisters, most of them retired, are members of a worldwide congregation of more than 14,000 founded more than a century ago, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. In San Antonio, they are known as The Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco and their network includes schools and a cornucopia of good works that support disadvantaged youth. “That’s our life commitment, to be with the young,” said Chavez. “To make honest citizens of them for here on earth, so they attain heaven. That’s our goal.” Sister Maria Guadalupe explained the connection to the Spurs this way: “We work with children, teenagers. They love sports. We love what they love. And so, we’re interested in sports and somehow we befriended the Spurs and so we’ve been friends with them for a long time.” After the Spurs won their fourth NBA title in 2007, Popovich and some players swung by for a visit and created a lasting commotion. “The coach came with the team and he spoke to everybody,” said Sister Angelita Guzman. “He took pictures with each sister, even if they were there in a wheelchair. He would kneel down and talk with a sister, and he was very affectionate with us.” Since then, Guzman has corresponded with Popovich the old-fashioned way, by written letter. He always writes back. Sometimes, in the offseason, she even has lunch with him. “When the other team is making the basket,” she said, “I say, ‘St. Joseph, sit in the basket, so they don’t win.'”

Read it all and watch the video. 

Photo: Greg Garber / ESPN

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