In memory of a special blessing

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 8, 2010

The end of the football field at Devereux Stadium may look empty this football season, but it is overflowing with the presence of its biggest fan.

In July, the Cathedral faithful mourned the death of Father John Brock.

When it comes to football, Green Wave fans in the Miss-Lou could depend on a few things. Young men muscling the ball down the gridiron, cheerleaders shaking pom-poms, fans lined up at the concession stand and Father Brock under the shadow of the goal posts.

Email newsletter signup

Like the church pews on Sunday morning, Father Brock had his designated place just behind the end zone. It might as well have had his name on it.

I didn’t know the former Assumption Church priest and school chaplain very well, but I did know that if I were scheduled to photograph a Cathedral game I would pass him on my way to the sidelines. He rarely missed a home game and traveled with the team as much as he could.

Before each game he regularly blessed the athletes from Cathedral and other local schools with the blessing of St. Sebastian the patron saint of athletes — not to ensure winning but to help students play their best and keep them from harm.

It was something he loved to do and something the athletes cherished.

My suspicion is that Father Brock did not care for the spotlight. From my vantage point, he enjoyed blessing the players before the game and cheering for the Green Wave during in the heat of competition.

So I wonder how Father Brock would feel if he knew that he was to lead the homecoming court into the stadium tonight.

In front of a line of fancy cars topped with young women dressed in their finery will be another car carrying a granite monument bearing a brass plaque with his name.

Fans and alumni will be cheering not for the 3-foot high monument circling the field but for Father Brock’s faithful service and undying support for the school and its teams.

After the monument makes its circle around the field, it will be placed between the Green Wave field house and the field. Already standing beside that spot is a sign inscribed with the words, “Protect This House. In Memory of Father J. Brock.”

Rightfully the cheering on the football field each Friday night is for the most spectacular touchdown, the flashiest move or the hardest hit. Less often do those who make sure the ball is snapped on time, the route is run perfectly and the blocks are made hear such cheers for their less visible service.

After all, the team is made up of more than one player. When it really comes down to it, it takes everyone from the quarterback to water boy, from the fans in the stadium to the priest rooting from the end zone to lift up the team.

My hope is that Father Brock would know that the accolades tonight shine a light on all of the steadfast faith, love and support he offered to Cathedral School.

Tonight the most important spot will not be where the Cathedral receiver catches the pass or where the homecoming queen stands with her escort.

The most important spot this evening will be the granite monument standing on the sideline.

May every Cathedral football player who runs his hand across the monument’s rough surface be strengthened by Father Brock’s presence — a presence that will be forever a part of Devereux Stadium and Cathedral School.

Thanks be to God.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or