Father Tomás Guillén reflects on his first year as chaplain of the Aquinas High School football team
By Fr. Tomás Guillén
SAN BERNARDINO—Waking up to an alarm in the early morning always makes me think twice of what is happening that day and why it’s so early.
For several weeks this past fall it meant that it was time for Falcon Football at Aquinas.
As I drove down the Cajon Pass from Hesperia to San Bernardino I reflected on the Mass I was going to celebrate and the prayer I was going to lead throughout the day in preparation for the game. I never thought that I would be a football chaplain, but God always calls us to something more and to new things that allow us to see His presence more clearly.
The connection between faith and athletics is something that I had not thought much about. I was approached by Coach Jordan Brusig after celebrating Mass on campus one day because he said the team needed a chaplain, they needed something more. I have to say that I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. It took one game for me to see that there is a place for prayer and reflection in the midst of getting ready for a game and at halftime when things can be in chaos and adrenaline is flowing. It proved to be a challenge to bring faith and football together but it is faith that will help our students as they walk in the classroom, onto a field or in life.
Our gifts and talents come from God and we must utilize them to greater glory but also to serve our brothers and sisters. We have to be grounded in our calling to grow in our relationship with God and also to grow in our relationship with each other. Aquinas is a small school compared to many of the schools that we played this season as we made our way to the Division 9 championship; but that is one of our strengths, that we are a family.
Becoming a part of this family and journeying with our talented student athletes is not something that I had planned this year. But we must accompany our youth wherever they go because it’s in the simple moments that we can share that hope that comes from God. In the midst of their challenges to stay healthy so they can play, in the midst of their academics, and in what is happening in their families and personal lives that we must accompany them.
Another football season has passed at Aquinas, one that was more memorable than any in recent years, with a new school record and seniors heading off to college programs. However, we know that as they leave Aquinas we have seen them mature in the classroom and on the field. Prayer and faith strengthen us, it is not simply good luck; another season comes and the preparation begins again. Developing and honing the gifts that God has given us and we must discern how to best put them in service on and off the field and share the hope that has been given to us.
Fr. Tomás Guillén is Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church in Hesperia.