Don Shula, who died Monday at the age of 90, is being remembered as the “winningest coach in NFL history.” Shula spent much of his retirement working to make sure that youngsters at his Catholic parish in South Florida would be the winningest students.
The Miami Dolphins, the team he coached from 1970 to 1995, issued a statement saying that Shula died “peacefully at his home.”
Fr. Juan Sosa, pastor of St. Joseph Parish on Miami Beach, told Aleteia that Shula attended daily Mass for years, including the early Mass on Sundays.
“When I arrived about 10 years ago, I met him as one of our parishioners, unpretentious, very devoted and faithful to his commitment as a Christian and a Catholic,” Fr. Sosa said in a statement Monday. “Later on, he became more physically dependent and he came with his family to Christmas and Eastercelebrations.
He reiterated his characterization of him as “unpretentious.”
“He did what God wanted him to do and fulfilled his vocation,” Fr. Sosa said.
He said that when a documentary was being made about him and the Dolphins several years ago, “he mentioned to me that he once, as a young man, wanted to become a priest. His pastor was very influential in this discernment. Fr. John Dearden, of whom he always spoke with great respect and love,” went on to became a cardinal, as Archbishop of Detroit.
But he went on to play football instead, beginning when he attended John Carroll University near Cleveland on a football scholarship. Born in Ohio, Donald Francis Shula grew up in a Catholic family of seven children, which included a set of triplets. In his 1995 book Everyone’s a Coach, Shula wrote that he “learned his faith from his parents” and that they never missed Mass on Sunday. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Painesville and graduated from John Carroll, where he became close to the Jesuits on the faculty there, according to a 2014 Catholic News Service article. Later, he endowed the Don Shula chair in philosophy at the university.
Shula played seven seasons as a defensive back in the NFL after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1951. He also played for Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins.
In 1963, Shula began coaching the Colts, becoming the youngest NFL coach at age 33. He led the Colts to Super Bowl III, though they lost to the New York Jets. Shula in 1970 signed on with Miami and ended up coaching 26 seasons before retiring after the 1995 season.
“Coach Shula, as everyone knew him, was simple, faithful to others, and a good servant,” Fr. Sosa told Aleteia. “He and Mary Anne, his wife, were instrumentalin the final construction of St. Joseph’s School and have been very supportive of the scholarship granted every year to an 8th grader who may wish to pursue his/her high school education in an archdiocesan high school.”
Fr. Sosa had told Catholic News Service in 2014 that the community knew the Shulas for their dedication to reconciliation and peace at various times in Miami’s history and for their commitment to Catholic schools.
News of Shula’s death on Monday was greeted with accolades in the sports world.
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the Dolphins’ statement said. “He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene.”
“Today is a sad day,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said in a statement. “Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every aspect of his life. He will be so missed by so many but his legacy of character and excellence will endure.”
Shula led the Dolphins to six Super Bowls, winning two of them — in 1972 and 1973. The first victory came at the end of an unprecedented season with no losses for the Dolphins. It remains the league’s only perfect season. He won an NFL-record 347 games, including playoff games, said ESPN. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Shula was “a tactician and taskmaster who built some of the most fearsome defenses and explosive offenses in league history,” according to the New York Times’ Ken Belson.
After his career, Shula started the Don Shula Foundation for Breast Cancer Research in memory of his first wife, Dorothy, who died from the disease.
Worried about the future? Find peace in this short prayer
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown. St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who…
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown.
St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who said to him (as quoted in The Way of the Cross), “Father, I am having a very rough time.”
In response, the saint composed a short but peaceful prayer of abandonment, entrusting to God everything past, present and future.
My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal.
Asking his friend to pray this prayer, St. Josemaria wrote, “Then, don’t worry any more.”
The only way we can move forward in calm is to entrust our “rough times” to God and then let the worry go. He is in control, and will be with us every step of the way.
Pope Francis reminisces about 6th grade
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast. “Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the…
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast.
“Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the Salesians,” he said, following the midday Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library. “I recall with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the sons and daughters of Don Bosco.”
The Pope did not mention it directly, but he was referring to 1949 when he and his younger brother, Oscar, were enrolled as boarders at Colegio Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles run by the Salesians at Ramos Mejía.
Pope in Salesian school
The Virgin Mary, under the title Mary Help of Christians, is the principal patroness of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the religious congregation that Don Bosco founded in 1859 in the northern Italian city of Turin, to serve the young people.
The city’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which was commissioned by Don Bosco himself, remains the heart of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Argentine Pope’s remarks on Sunday is not the first time that he has spoken about the influence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in his childhood.
Turin, June 22, 2015
Pope Francis visited Turin, June 21-22, 2015, during which he joined the Salesians in celebrating the 200th birth centenary of Don Bosco, who was born on August 16, 1815, and died on January 31, 1888.
During his visit, the Pope met the Salesians, including the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian sisters, which Don Bosco co-founded with Saint Mary Mazzarello.
While commending Don Bosco’s ministry for young people, the Pope recounted fond childhood memories of his family’s closeness to the Salesians and how, when his mother was ill, he was taken out of public school to spend one year studying with the Salesians.
The Holy Father spoke of how he grew very attached to the Salesian community in the year he spent with them and that one priest, in particular, followed him from Baptism to the realization of his vocation, accompanying him ultimately on his journey to the Jesuit Order.
Salesian priests Fathers Enrico Pozzoli and Cayetano Bruno are particularly remembered by the Pope.
“Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco”
Again, in January 2019, Pope Francis wrote a preface to the book, “Evangelii gaudium con don Bosco” (Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco), a collection of reflections by 25 members of the Salesian family.
Commending the spirit of joy of Don Bosco, despite the thousands of “difficulties that besieged him every day”, the Pope recalled his association with the Salesians as a boy in Argentina.
While studying in a Salesian school, he wrote in the preface, he found that same “climate of joy and family.” The Salesians, he said, trained him to appreciate beauty, work, and cheerfulness – and this, he told the Salesians, “is your vocation.”
Houston church closes again after priests test positive for COVID-19
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19. “Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr.…
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19.
“Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr. William Bueche, C.Ss.R., pastor of Holy Ghost, said in a statement May 16. “While the individuals themselves are asymptomatic, they, and the other members of the community, are in quarantine in the residence isolated from the others. All members of the household have been tested and are awaiting results.”
Fr. Bueche said that one of the individuals who tested positive had been active in celebrating public Masses at Holy Ghost since the church reopened on May 2. He urged anyone who has attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost since the reopening to “monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure.”
The priest said he informed the City of Houston Health Department about the situation.
In a statement issued Monday, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston noted that, Fr. Donnell Kirchner, a 79-year-old priest at Holy Ghost died. “The specific cause of death is unknown, but he had been recently treated at an urgent care clinic who referred him to a hospital emergency room,” the statement read. “He was diagnosed with pneumonia but he was not admitted to the hospital and ws sent home with medication. It is not clear if he was tested for covid-19 at either faciity. He returned to the residence he shared with seven other members of his religious order.”
The statement said that following Fr. Kirchner’s death, the other Redemptorists “sought medical advice, and all were tested for the coronavirus. Although the parish had followed cleaning, sanitation and social distancing guidelines described by State health officials since reopening on May 2, they determined at that time it was best to close the church immediately to public Masses until the results of their tests were known.”
The archdiocese also noted that in-person attendance at Holy Ghost had been “closely controlled” and that attendance at Mass on Sunday never exceeded 179, far short of the 900-person capacity. Weekday Mass attendance as a “small fraction of that amount.”
An earlier statement on the parish website said that Masses would be canceled as of May 14 because the Redemptorist community was self-quarantining while awaiting results of the COVID-19 tests. Suspension of Masses included the funeral for Fr. Kirchner originally scheduled on Saturday, May 16.