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Faith in KC: Chiefs Catholic chaplain shares his prayers for Super Bowl LV

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 07:41:59-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's very likely there will be a prayer or two lifted on behalf of the Chiefs this weekend, just as there have been all season.

But where exactly do faith and sports intersect? In our new series "Faith in KC," 41 Action News Morning Anchor Taylor Hemness has spoken with several spiritual leaders across Kansas City.

He reached out during Super Bowl week to Father Richard Rocha, the Catholic chaplain for the Chiefs, to hear what his prayers for the team include.

"I never say the 'W' word," Rocha said. "It almost sounds like it's a bad word, but it's not."

Rocha loves football — and, for the record, says God does, too — and often tells his congregation at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Blue Springs that his homily is like halftime, when adjustments can be made in people's lives.

Before becoming a priest, Rocha coached high school and college football.

"I thought I was going to coach and get married and have 10 kids," Rocha said.

Instead, his family is his congregation, and his message during the season stays constant.

"'Pray for our boys in red,' and they always respond, 'And for their Catholic chaplain,'" Rocha said. "And I say, 'Because he needs it the most.'"

Rocha is thankful for his role with the team, because he gets the chance to see and share who they are as men, not just athletes.

"They're human," Rocha said. "Even though they're in the spotlight, they need Christ."

Rocha has performed marriages and baptisms for team members and coaches. He also provides the sacraments, including mass, at the stadium some Sundays for players who want it.

"If a guy makes a sign of the cross before the snap or at the goal line or before a kick," Rocha said, describing Catholic players on the team, "(it's) probably a good indication. Or, if he's making the sign after a touchdown."

There are all kinds of questions, and jokes, on where fandom and spirituality mix. How many Chiefs fans have ever ducked out of, or missed, a church service for a game?

Rocha said he hears all that, too, and when he gets asked if God really cares about football, he's ready with an answer.

"I said, 'There's so many men out there on the field, that walk out on that field, and they care a lot about that sport,'" Rocha said. "If they care a lot about that and they wanna serve God, then, yeah, God cares a lot about that."

Rocha said it's a good reminder for fans who love to watch football that it's a profession for the players and coaches. They're praying about it just like the fans may pray for their own jobs.

So, if you need a little guidance on what to pray before the game, Rocha said, "We never ask God for a win, but we pray that we play just a little better than them."

Rocha also serves as the chaplain for the Kansas City Royals. He attended the Chiefs' win last season during Super Bowl LV in Miami Gardens, Florida, but is not attending this year.