Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs, who kicked the winning field goal in this year’s Super Bowl, is a deeply committed Catholic, who isn’t shy about proclaiming his faith publicly. In this, he’s fast becoming a role model for young people — especially young, aspiring Catholic athletes.
But this has not always been the case. Although he grew up in a Catholic family and attended Mass weekly as a child, Butker drifted away from the Church and the sacraments in high school — as many young people, unfortunately, do. He began to live his life in what he calls “the emptiness of the party scene.” Then, when he was playing football at Georgia Tech, he developed a friendship with a teammate named Grant. In Butker’s words, Grant was “different from your normal college guy. … he was on fire for his Catholic faith.” This intrigued Butker, who began to ask his new friend questions about Jesus, the Church, and Catholic beliefs and practices. The answers Grant gave eventually led Butker to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to a renewal of his Catholic faith.
There is a lesson here about evangelization, especially for parents of children who no longer go to Mass and practice their Catholic faith. When these moms and dads pray for a wayward son or daughter, they should perseveringly pray for the Lord to send a “Grant” into their child’s life — a committed, “on fire” Catholic—who can provide the same kind of insight, encouragement and example for their child that Harrison Butker’s friend provided for him. In today’s world, young people will often listen to their friends more than they will listen to their parents.
But that can be a great blessing in disguise, if their friends are passionate Catholics like Grant — as Harrison Butker would surely attest.