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August 23, 2007 Edition

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Champions of Faith:
Intersection of faith and sports

Last Friday, I was among a group of diocesan seminarians, priests, and Serrans returning by bus from a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game.

Someone had brought along the film Champions of Faith and put it on the TV screen on the bus. The film was the perfect ending to the outing, because it profiles many prominent baseball figures.

Quotes to live by

From Champions of Faith

"It's spending time in prayer that keeps us closer to God." -- Jeff Suppan

"Prayer is very important. It keeps me grounded." -- Mike Piazza

"Prayer changes everything. It keeps me sane. It helps me go out here and do what I have to do every day." -- Juan Pierre

"When you receive Christ every single Sunday, He is the catalyst and He works through you." -- Darrell Miller

"With faith you can get through anything . . . there's always a way." -- Rich Donnelly

"Sometimes He puts you in the desert, sometimes He'll deliver you from the desert, sometimes He's walking with you through the desert." -- Dusty Baker

Stories of faith. However, this film is not just about the sports aspect of baseball. It's about stories of faith as told by players and managers. The film also shows how baseball is a metaphor for life. It focuses on the virtues and values integral to the game of baseball.

As I watched the film, I was mesmerized by what these baseball champions were saying. Interspersed with action scenes from actual games, the film shows us real-life heroes on the baseball field - and more importantly on the field of life.

And above all, the baseball giants are not afraid to talk about their Catholic faith. We see them praying and attending Mass. They emphasize how important their faith is to them and how it impacts their lives.

Two champions with special bond. Among the players profiled in Champions of Faith are Jeff Suppan and David Eckstein, who both played for the 2006 world champion St. Louis Cardinals. The bond between these two teammates was not forged on the playing field. Instead, their relationship grew when the two attended Mass together regularly during the 2006 baseball season.

Both endured challenges during the 2006 season. Eckstein, for example, suffered a severe injury that knocked him out of the Cardinals lineup for a month. Fortunately, the spiritual bond forged between Suppan and Eckstein proved to be a tremendous source of mutual strength. "Soup" went on to receive the MVP of the National League Championship Series and "Eck" recovered from his injury to earn the World Series MVP title. Said Eckstein, "The biggest lesson, the only lesson, is that it's all in the Lord's hands, and He has a plan for you."

Great resource. This is a great film! I would encourage people to order this film to show family members and friends. It would be a wonderful resource for Catholic school classrooms and parish religious education programs. A companion guide is available which focuses on the virtues discussed in the film, including humility, perseverance, forgiveness, leadership, and integrity. For more information, visit www.ChampionsofFaith.com

Mary C. Uhler

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