Varsity Catholic Athlete Wins XC Championship Title

Kathryn Houle is a student-athlete involved with Varsity Catholic at North Dakota State University. Last weekend her Cross Country team won the Championship Title. Congratulations North Dakota State Univerisity!!

For the women, North Dakota State won its first championship title with 64 points, followed by Southern Utah with 73 and UMKC with 99.  South Dakota State (116), South Dakota (132) and Oral Roberts (133) finished fourth through sixth respectively.  Oakland (148), IUPUI (178), IPFW (197) and Western Illinois (271) rounded out the women’s field.

The program that Kathryn is involved with on campus is called Varsity Catholic. Varsity Catholic is a ministry for student-athletes on campus, its mission is to help develop the complete athlete – body, mind and soul.

You can read the complete article here: SUU Men and NDSU Women Capture Cross Country Championship Titles

For more information about Varsity Catholic and how you can get involved on your campus visit their website or find them on Facebook.

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Whoa – Sports + Faith is Legit to the Max

Tim Tebow and Christophobia

BY GEORGE WEIGEL
Two weeks into the NFL season, ESPN ran a Sunday-morning special exploring why the third-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow, had become the most polarizing figure in American sports — more polarizing than trash-talking NBA behemoths; more polarizing than foul-mouthed Serena Williams; more polarizing than NFL all-stars who father numerous children by numerous women, all out of wedlock. Why does Tebow, and Tebow alone, arouse such passions? Why is Tebow the one whom “comedians” say they would like to shoot?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
A hint: It has nothing to do with Tim Tebow’s prospects as a pro quarterback.

For readers who don’t follow the NFL, let me explain that Tim Tebow is a Heisman trophy winner who led the University of Florida to two mythical national collegiate championships. Many consider Tebow the greatest college football player ever, although there is a lot of skepticism about whether his skills will translate to the pro game. He is, by all accounts, a terrific teammate and a hard worker. Beyond these bare facts of his sporting life, however, lie the beginnings of an answer to the question of why so many people hate Tim Tebow with an irrational hatred.

Tebow is the son of an evangelical pastor and spends some of his vacation time working with his father’s mission in the Philippines. He famously wore eye-black with Bible verses inked on it in white during his Florida career, and he is not reluctant to share his Christian faith in other public ways. He visits sick kids in hospitals; he has said that he is a virgin who believes in saving himself for marriage; he and his mother taped a pro-life commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. There is not the slightest evidence that Tebow has ever forced himself and his convictions on his teammates or on an unsuspecting public.

And if Catholics would find his theology a little questionable at points, there is nothing of which I’m aware that would suggest that Tim Tebow wouldn’t be interested in sitting down and having a serious conversation with knowledgeable Catholics about how God saves those who will be saved. A guy who can command respect in the moral and cultural free-fire zone of an NFL locker room (not to mention the Southeastern Conference, which hardly resembles a network of Carthusian monasteries) is not likely to be shaken by a serious conversation about his understanding of how the Lord Jesus and his Father might effect the salvation of those who do not explicitly avow faith in the Lord Jesus and his Father.

No, Tim Tebow is a target of irrational hatred, not because he’s an iffy quarterback at the NFL level or a creep personally or an obnoxious, in-your-face, self-righteous proselytizer. He draws hatred because he is an unabashed Christian, whose calmness and decency in the face of his Christophobic detractors drives them crazy. Tim Tebow, in other words, is a prime example of why Christophobia — a neologism first coined by a world-class comparative constitutional law scholar, J.H.H. Weiler, himself an Orthodox Jew — is a serious cultural problem in these United States.

It is simply unimaginable that any prominent Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh quarterback, should such a fantasy of anthropology exist, would be subjected to the vileness that is publicly dumped on Tim Tebow.

Tolerance, that supreme virtue of the culture of radical relativism, does not extend to evangelical Christians, it seems. And if it does not extend to evangelicals who unapologetically proclaim their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and who live their commitment to the dignity of human life from conception and natural death, it will not extend to Catholics who make that same profession of faith and that same moral commitment. Whatever we think of Tim Tebow’s theology of salvation, Tim Tebow and serious Catholics are both fated to be targets of the Christophobes.

Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed with fervor, it draws opposition. The ultimate source of that opposition is the evil one, but we know what his fate will be. What we don’t know is how democracy can survive widespread, radical Christophobia.

George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.

Read more here

20 miles

My sister Clare has been writting about her marathon training for the past month for my blog. The following is by Clare.

This past summer, on my way down to Nashville to visit guess who? Yes, the incredible producer of this blog and organization, Made in His Image, I was reading Born To Run, which explains an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. One paragraph from the book hit home for me when they were naturally talking about marathons. They were discussing how a character from the book was training for the Olympic marathon and she didn’t have a coach or a training program and she didn’t even own a watch. She just rolled out of bed every morning, downed a veggie burger and ran as far as she felt she could, which usually turned out to be 20 miles! She said that she did it to “unravel the mystery she thought marathon running presented.”

Well, my friends, I DO have a training plan and a watch for that matter. My fellow training partner, Caitlin and I are in week 13 of marathon training for the Niagara Fall International Marathon in 5 weeks. WooHoo! We are both way to hardcore for our own good, such as meeting each other in the library at 3 am to study for neuroscience exams and studying till all we could do is hysterically laugh at how we pronounce crazy medical terminology. We decided that we should combine our wild sides to train for 26.2 miles, and finish out our final semester of graduate school with a bang!

So, last weekend, Caitlin and I met naturally in the dusk of morning to run 20 miles together. In my opinion the total effect of a long run is getting up before the sun rises, but that’s just me. I dropped water bottles and packets of energy gel at miles 7, 14, 17. Most distance runners have at some point “hit the wall”, a term often used to describe complete exhaustion.  Energy Gels are there to help with that.  On runs over the 10-12 mile mark, they are indispensable. Gels consisted of different carbs, which are absorbed at different intervals that give you a steady stream of energy; thus keeping you from crashing. They also contain potassium, which helps with maintaining muscle contractions.

When we hit mile 7, the morning sun was just about coming up and it was a cool, beautiful morning. Caitlin is used to running hills, so I crafted out a nice flat run that went through woods near my house. At times, the run was rough and we needed each other to persevere through and motivate each other in what we were trying to accomplish. Although it was hard, and the last couple strides of mile 19 were rough, we finished! We both enjoyed a nice tall glass of chocolate milk a few minutes later, which by the way is an awesome post run drink. Protein is perfect after a run so that amino acids return to your bloodstream to get to the tissue in your body and repair your muscles.

All athletes or should I say athletic people strive for perfection and try hard to minimize their mistakes. Being an athlete my whole life, I often struggle with being called a “perfectionist” and wanting to do all things without mistakes. Training for this marathon has taught me a lot about how to measure greatness and accomplishments. In a world where honor and fame are recognized as success, individuals often find their value in high achievement or conversely their lack of value in failure. I don’t know about you, but the times in my life where I have discovered the most about myself was when I have failed or persevered through something that was a challenge.

So my friends, go after those dreams you have deep within your heart that you thought you never could reach. Our call to greatness has nothing to do with being perfect or running a speedy marathon time or never making mistakes, but in striving for a dream that God has instilled within our heart to achieve. There is greatness within each one of us that is attainable!

17 miles!

A lot of people think running is the same thing as jogging. To put it bluntly, it’t not. And while I most certainly do not intend to degrade anyone who jogs, my sister Clare is a runner. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a jogger, but compared to Clare this past weekend I might have to put myself in that category. On Sundays I only have time to run a quick 5 miles after work and before evening Mass. In preparation for her third marathon this fall, Clare ran 17 miles this weekend. And yes, that would be all at once. Amazing right? Here is her marathon training update for all of you advanced runners out there. The following was written by Clare, a former NCAA Division 1 runner.


My sister Clare and Megan post Marine Corps Marathon, 2010.

 

Perhaps the worst part about marathon training is knowing and thinking about the pain that will come sooner or later on the run. I believe marathon training itself humbles and exhilarates you at the same time. That in itself, is the lure that brings you back when you have forgotten about the last one. Frank Shorter, a former American long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Olympic Games, once said “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”

As I embark on week 11 of marathon training, that little voice inside my head is beginning to get louder and louder as I ask myself, why am I doing this to myself again? People ask me what I did this morning. And I tell them “Oh, I got up at 6 am and ran 17 miles.” Needless to say I got some weary looks.

But yes, before the East Coast was ravaged this weekend by hurricane Irene (I would have run during the storm, but great friends and family were concerned for my safety. I love running in the rain!) I got up and ran 17 miles in preparation for my 26.2 mile endeavor in 8 weeks. Overall, it was a great run! Got up a little early and ingested some carbohydrates to help maintain my blood glucose levels during my run. Did the first 12 miles on this awesome trail through the woods near my house. Then I ran back to my house where a half of a banana, cold glass of water, and my roommate Megan was waiting for me to finish the last 5 miles.

At around mile 9, I was feeling a bit tired and then I knew I need some “reinforcements.” I called upon them from Our Blessed Mother and the saints. That is when I just start praying for the strength to persevere. Having the motivation of knowing someone is waiting for you at a certain mile is also awesome. So for all you long distance runners out there, having a running training buddy is a great motivator because you think in your head “I can’t stop because they are waiting for me.”

Therefore my friends, knowing you will experience fatigue, pain and have to be mentally strong to simply keep going is what makes you a marathon runner. It is important to remember that feeling tired is what training is about. From a physiology standpoint you receive many benefits from marathon training only after you’re tired. So the goal is to run beyond the point of being tired so that the body is stimulated to grow stronger and gain more resistance to tiredness.

I have learned over the past couple years that marathon training or running in general is a great metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it. It is a battle of your mental will to keep on persevering and complete the task you started. So in our present culture that offers every alternative to avoiding pain. I leave you with a question – is there any kind of true love in this world without some type of resistance, struggle or cross?

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow

I have always admired Tim Tebow’s love for the Lord. When I was a missionary with Varsity Catholic I use to think it would be amazing if he converted to the Catholic faith and became a missionary with FOCUS. I would pray for it all the time.

This morning I read this article from FOX Sports about him. It is well worth the read and I think it’s very encouraging to see stellar athletes praise God for their talent. The world needs more role models like Tebow for athletes. Enjoy the read and BE BOLD for Christ. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow
by Jen Floyd Engel
FOX Sports
August 12, 2011
 

Tim Tebow’s opening drive Thursday dripped with every criticism ever hurled in his vicinity.

Quick to run. Slow to set up, read, release. Lacking accuracy.

And because this was Tim Tebow rather than, say, Brady Quinn, we heard an “amen” from an angry congregation of sports fans reveling in his fail. If Schadenfreude needs a corporate sponsor, call Twitter. Fans and journalists alike unloaded on the Broncos quarterback and his faith 140 characters at a time early and often during Thursday’s preseason festivities.

Tebow in game. Let’s see if he can cure leprosy.

God has decided to wait until regular season to start assisting Tebow.

God flipping over from GOP debate to watch Tebow.

All were in stark contrast to Tebow’s “Joshua 1:9” pregame tweet that loosely translates to “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” depending on your Bible of choice.

I am not a preacher. And this is not a sermon.

My message actually is just a question: Why? What about Tebow brings out such meanness in us?

Because this seems strangely personal, like some folks want him to fail, just to be able to ask, “Where’s your Messiah now?” — also seen on Twitter on Thursday. I have seen columns already calling him a failure, predicting his imminent demise, detailing why he fails, ripping his practice, his preparation, telling missionaries to save a seat for him because he’ll be joining them soon, questioning if maybe God wants him to be a backup. His Christianity and his performance linked together, both used as punch lines.

After the game, I asked him why he thought criticism of him was so fierce, so wildly personal, so often faith-based.

“Well gosh, I’m not sure. It’s hard to say,” Tebow said. “My faith has been a big part of my life and it’s something that I feel like I show, but I don’t feel like I am ever too outward about it as far as putting other people down or preaching.”

“Preachy” seems to be a favorite criticism, anyway. Overhyped, overexposed, preachy and not really good all get mentioned. I witnessed none of that Thursday. Admittedly, the sample size was small, but the sincerity of the kid almost knocked me over. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time national champion and a good kid.

So we kill him. And by “we,” I really mean y’all.

Full disclosure: I like this kid for all the reasons many seem to despise him. I like how he wears his faith proudly. I like how he seems to practice what he preaches. I like how he believes in himself despite waves of doubt coming from all corners. I like how he delivers punishing hits. I like what he stands for. I like his heart. And I am not so convinced Merril Hoge is right in giggly dismissing his chances of being an NFL quarterback. I believe Tebow may just turn into a quarterback despite his flaws. I have this thing about not betting against winners.

Or at least I am unwilling to rip him for believing he can.

If the worst thing that can be said about a kid is he believes he’ll be an NFL quarterback because he believes in God, he’s doing all right. He’s not saying God has guaranteed him a starting job, rather that his faith in himself comes from his belief in God. I read once where Pastor Rick Warren said, “God wants to turn your test into a testimony; your mess into a message.” Tebow recognizes failure can be a testimony as well, depending how one wears it.

And let’s dispense with this idea that somehow Tebow already has established himself as a failure and does not belong in a Broncos QB discussion that includes Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. All three look better equipped to step into a J Crew ad than John Elway’s shoes.

This is not simply about Tebow’s play, this is personal.

And even if he ends up being the worst quarterback in the history of quarterbacks, why are we OK with turning his Christianity into a punch line? If Tebow were a devout Muslim, would we snark about tenets of his religion? Or if he were Jewish? Or Buddhist? Or atheist? Or Espicopalian?

Maybe, but those cracks would be flagged by the PC crowd almost immediately. Christianity is fair game.

In a league fraught with all kinds — sinners and saints, good guys and great talent, dog killers, vehicular manslaughterers, adulterers and a whole bunch of other “–ers” we have chosen to ignore — we hate him.

All I can figure is we just want our athletes to say sound bites about “giving all the glory to God” and leave it at that. We do not want to hear about them actually living this, and we snark on them if they do.

But I am preaching now. And this is not a sermon.

This is about a young quarterback who, after a shaky first drive, finished 6 for 7 for 91 yards and generally acquitted himself decently, who believes he’ll be a starting NFL quarterback one day and who puts his faith in God.

So, by all means, go ahead and hate him. Just ask yourself why.

Because hating him seems to say more about the congregation than the Evangelical quarterback.

Running advice from Clare

Contrary to popular opinion Clare is my younger sister. Yep, that would be correct, I am older than Clare. For some weird reason people always assume that Clare is older; I guess I need to start acting my age more huh? Anyway I am a year and a half older than Clare, shocking I know. I have asked Clare to be a guest writer for my blog to give advice to more advanaced runners because she is a two time marathon runner and knows a thing or two when it comes to running.

Clare is a former NCAA Division 1 athlete. She ran for the cross country and track teams at Seton Hall University. In the fall of 2010, she completed the Harrisburg Marathon and then last year the Marine Corps Marathon. Currently, Clare is training for her third marathon this fall in upstate NY. In short, Clare is amazing! The following is written by Clare. And she will be a regular writer for this section of my blog.

Clare (right) and our friend Megan after completing the Marine Corps Marathon.

Hello, and welcome to Maura’s blog. I am so happy to be writing for I fight Him with love. I am even more excited about my sister’s ministry Made in His Image. When her clinic is built I am going to head up a running group for girls recovering from eating disorders and help educate them on running in moderation. For now, here is what I have for you. Thanks for reading.

At times I feel compelled to ask myself why I have this innate drive within me to get up at four a.m. to complete a 20 mile run for marathon training. I mean goodness gracious at times it is difficult for me to get up at the crack of dawn to a delicious cup of espresso, but a three and a half hour run? Why put yourself through 18-weeks of strenuous training to only conclude with a 26.2 mile race? However, from the time I finished my first short race, the challenge of a 26.2 mile race always hovered in the back of my mind. For sure, the 5-K race is pleasant, the 10K race is commonplace, and the half-marathon a definite self-esteem propelling long distance race, but in my mind none of these have the mere distinction that a marathon has alone. It was a feat I always wanted to accomplish, had to accomplish, and ultimately did accomplish. Why, one might ask? Because for a runner the achievement of a marathon is always something left to undertake. It gives someone an opportunity to test the limits of their perseverance and accomplish something extraordinary when you don’t think you have it within yourself to take one more step.

So to all of my running friends out there who want to undertake this grand and glorious endeavor I have jotted down a few tips for marathon training that I have learned…

Pre-long run : Starting out with sufficient energy reserves is vital, but it’s best to allow one to four hours after eating a proper meal before setting off, otherwise your body may not have had time to digest the food properly. I normally complete my long run in the morning, so I get up ½ to hour earlier before start running. If you’re heading out first thing, think about grabbing a quick snack like a banana or energy bar, perhaps a slice of toast or half a bagel. Alternatively, a few swigs of a sports drink can give you a quick boost – these are easier to digest than solid food, and are a good source of carbohydrate if you can’t stomach anything more substantial. I normally just eat a Cliff energy bar (Chocolate Brownie are my favorite!) Keeping hydrated while training is also an absolute must. As a rough guide, try to drink 500ml of water, diluted juice or a sports drink hour before a run, and another 150ml just before you leave.

During long run: If you plan to run for less than an hour, plain water should be all you need to top up your fluid levels while you’re out. Exercise for longer, though, and you may find sports drinks helpful. These usually contain sugar and electrolytes (including sodium) to help replenish fluid loss.  For long runs (over 60 minutes), consider taking a snack with you so you’re not left running on empty. Energy gels washed down with water will give you an added boost, as will jelly beans or a banana. Few runners are able to tolerate anything more while on the run. Running is a high intensity activity. The body uses a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fat to burn energy. However, carbohydrates are the most efficient form of fuel available to burn. Carbohydrates are nothing but sugar and they store and transport energy. If the body runs low on carbohydrates, runners commonly experience hitting the wall, which is no fun!! I love the power-gel brand that has an espresso flavor that has a shot of espresso in it. My kind of boost if you ask me! If you’re planning to eat or drink during a race, try doing so a few times in training beforehand. There’s no way of predicting how your body might react to anything new and you don’t want any nasty surprises!

Post-run: Replacing fluid after a run is just as important as before and during. Drinking around 500ml of water or diluted juice in the first 30 minutes after your run should be plenty, but if you have a headache or feel nauseous you should have more. After hard sessions, especially if you plan to train again the next day, think about having a recovery drink. The carbohydrate-protein ratio of these drinks will speed up muscle repair, rehydrated you quickly and also give your immune system a boost. Energy bars are also good for topping up your fuel reserves when you get back. Like recovery drinks, they contain a mixture of carbohydrate and protein that will help your muscles recover faster. Other good post-run snacks include eggs on toast, a fruit smoothie and a tuna sandwich. If you can, try to eat within an hour of completing your run, as this will maximize the benefits.

So my friend’s marathon training is no simple achievement. It is an epic adventure that I am sure you will not regret. The harder the struggle the more glorious the triumph is what I always say. Stay posted on more tips. St. Sebastian (patron saint of athletes), Pray for us!

Dang, this is hot stuff!

I just got home from work and read this article on my desk. Dang, that’s hot! Faith and Sports – doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, St. Therese is my Confirmation Saint. A must read article.

A Career Sustained by Unwavering Faith

Mustafah Abdulaziz for The New York Times

Wherever he goes, including Manhattan, Jack McKeon, the manager of the Florida Marlins, makes sure to attend Mass the morning of every game. “When I go to the ballpark, I have no worries,” he said. “God’s looking after me.”

By 

Jack McKeon’s baseball days begin in a pew. At 8 on Tuesday morning, the Florida Marlins’ manager attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, less than 12 hours after his team beat the Mets on a 10th-inning grand slam. Such games are testament to his faith in the saint he prays to every game during the national anthem.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Jack McKeon took over the Florida Marlins in 2003 and led them to a World Series title over the Yankees that year. McKeon returned to the Marlins halfway through this season.

“A good night for St. Thérèse,” he said, sitting in the lounge of a Midtown Manhattan hotel.

In each major league city, McKeon has a favorite, or at least a convenient, Roman Catholic church. If he does not know their names, he can describe them or tell you how to get there. In Cincinnati, it’s SS. Peter and Paul. In Chicago, Mass is at Holy Name Cathedral. In Philadelphia, he goes to what he calls “the oldest church in the U.S.” When the Marlins stayed at a hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he followed these directions: “Walk out the door, take a left, walk 30 yards, and take a right, where the homeless hang out.”

For each of the regular churches in his personal directory, he learns the Mass schedule.

“At St. Patrick’s it’s 7, 7:30, 8, noon and 12:30,” he said. “They’re very flexible.”

Mornings at church “give me energy,” he said. “You’re free. You feel good.” His daily ritual is part of a baseball routine that is now in its 62nd year, stretching back to D League ball in Greenville, Ala.

“When I go to the ballpark, I have no worries,” he said. “God’s looking after me.”

McKeon is renowned for taking over the Marlins earlier this season at 80, which made him a hero to ambitious octogenarians. Through Monday, his Marlins were 22-15. Returning to his previous managerial routine has been no more difficult than riding a bicycle again, he said. “I’m not 80,” he said. “I’m 58.”

His faith, while no secret, is not as famous as that of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who was also a daily worshiper. Nor is his devotion as recognized as his 2003 World Series championship with the Marlins, his cigars, his wit or his Trader Jack nickname, which stems from his days as the general manager of the San Diego Padres.

McKeon, who grew up in South Amboy, N.J., recalled his father’s initial refusal to let him sign a professional contract out of high school. Scouts were interested in him. But his father wanted him to go to college.

“So off I went to Holy Cross, and every night, I’d pass the shrine of the Virgin Mary on my way to the dining hall,” McKeon said. “I asked her to intercede with the Good Lord to convince my father to let me sign. I got home for Christmas and the scouts were back, and one day, my father said, ‘You really want to play? If you promise to get a college education, I’ll let you sign.’ I attribute that to the power of prayer.”

McKeon said that in 1950, he asked John B. Coakley, an older minor league teammate in Gloversville, N.Y., to join him for Mass one Sunday morning. “He said, ‘I’d love to, but I don’t understand all the signals you have,’ ” McKeon said, laughing at the memory. In a telephone interview, Coakley added: “I told him if he taught me the signals, I’d become a Catholic.” And he did.

Harry Dunlop, who coached for McKeon at Kansas City, Cincinnati and Florida, attended Mass often enough with McKeon to enjoy it.

“If you’re a Presbyterian, it’s tough to go to church on Sundays, because you have to get to the park early,” he said. “So I said: ‘What’s the difference? It’s a house of God.’ ”

He converted, too.

One managerial job eventually led to another for McKeon, but not always neatly.

The Reds fired him after the 2000 season, when he was 69. He prayed to St. Thérèse.

“She’s the prodigy of miracles, and I needed a miracle,” McKeon said. “I don’t know God’s plan,” he recalled saying in his prayers, “but I don’t think my career has been fulfilled. And then came the Marlins.”

He took over the Marlins in the midst of the 2003 season, just as he did this year. On Oct. 15, 2003, before Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in Chicago, McKeon attended Mass. It was the morning after Steve Bartman interfered with a foul ball and the Cubs wilted.

“I’m in the pew and the pastor says that today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila and I say, ‘We’re in, we’re going to win today.’ ” Never mind that St. Teresa is not his St. Thérèse. But she was in the ballpark.

The Marlins won, and went on to beat the Yankees in the World Series. Msgr. Neal Dolan, the pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church in Poway, Calif., said McKeon’s faith “has always impressed me because he believes in being positive.”

“That’s why he’s still managing,” he added.

Their friendship began when McKeon was running the Padres; Dolan officiated at the weddings of two of McKeon’s four children and the conversion of one of his sons-in-law.

“People in baseball believe their talent comes from God,” Dolan said. “And Jack recognizes that.”

One of McKeon’s partners in faith is Tommy Lasorda, a former Los Angeles Dodgers manager.

At church one morning in Cincinnati, McKeon watched Lasorda light a candle.

“Later,” he said, “when I got to home plate, I said, ‘Tommy, I saw you light a candle, but it won’t work. After you lit it, I went up behind it and blew it out.’ ”