Football for the Fathers

Sometimes during the cold winter days, we like to think back to a time of warm summer air and fun times, some of which being football games
Father Andrew, Father Acrea, Father Downey, and Father Flood stand on the sideline at a football game.
Father Andrew, Father Acrea, Father Downey, and Father Flood stand on the sideline at a football game.
D. Platt

Dowling is lucky to have three or more priests on the football field at a time, so when our football season comes to a close, these priests mark another successful season in the books. Father Reed Flood and Father James Downey have been involved in Dowling football since they were little. It’s almost a rite of passage for them, as they were part of the Catholic Football League (CFL) as kids, played many high school seasons, and are now back at Dowling, adhering to their priestly duties on the field.

This year, watching the CFL kids running across the field was especially memory-inducing for Father Downey, bringing back feelings of pride about wearing the CFL shirt, getting upgraded to a jersey, and forming groups behind the bleachers during games. For Father Downey, this wasn’t a stark difference from being a high schooler on the sideline suited up and ready to play. Now, as a priest, he gets to be one step further from the situation but easily fits right back into place. Father Flood put it into words saying, “Before we were within it and couldn’t appreciate all of the things that went into it. I was really just marching ahead, but now zooming out, our perspective from the altar and also our perspective from the sidelines is profound.” 

Father Downey and Father Flood, since they are affiliated with the school, are not connected with a parish or church. “Being a diocesan priest without a parish is a bizarre and unnatural experience,” Father Downey says. “Friday nights are the closest experience to being able to see the entire parish and where my ministry is connected.” Football games are one of the times that they feel they are among a parish of their people. “It’s so cool to be able to see this universal experience of high school, the Friday night. It’s so beautiful to see faith permeating into a nexus of sport, art, camaraderie, teachers and faculty, and reunion,” Father Flood explains. 

“My experience of Dowling Catholic football as a chaplain at Dowling is a consistent, powerful tradition and a profoundly new perspective on that tradition.”

— Father Flood

Taking one step back, I have a personal connection to Father Flood’s high school football story. My uncle, Father Zach Kautzky, was the priest at Dowling for a large chunk of time. This being the case, he was there for Father Flood’s high school football career. Father Flood agreed with his family during his senior year of high school that if he got one more concussion, he’d be done with football. “Football at Dowling began my prayer life because I was so nervous,” he explains. As a result, he went to Father Kautzky for confession and he asked him to bless his head before every game. “What began in fear of pain and losing something I loved, grew into love and trust,” Father Flood explains, “Father Kautzky began with blessing my head on the sidelines of football games, fast forward to my ordination, where ten years later he was blessing my head again.”

Our Dowling priests never stop praying for us, the glory of God, and more, and even during games, they said that by the end of the night, they’ve prayed close to two rosaries and various sections of the liturgy of the hours as well. 

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About the Contributor
Delaney Platt, Staff Writer
Delaney Platt is a junior at Dowling Catholic High School. She is involved in Student Ambassadors, Students for Life, Youth Leadership Initiative, as well as Special Olympics, Volleyball, and Ut Fidem. In her spare time, Delaney loves reading, binge-watching Netflix, and hanging out with her friends. She is super excited to continue sharing the stories of Dowling Catholic.

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