We pray for John Paul, our Pope, and “John” our bishop
it was not at all unusual during my first eight years here as bishop to hear a priest concelebrant at Mass with me pray in the Eucharistic prayer for “John Paul, our Pope, and “John” our bishop. Initially I thought, well my predecessor was named “John” and it is a totally understandable phenomenon. Then it started occurring to me what when this occurred at Mass, it was always during football season and finally, I understood: the priest by mistake is praying for the other, far more famous Lynch in town – Number 47 – Strong Safety for the Bucs, John Lynch.
Monday was a bittersweet moment for many as John Lynch returned home to Tampa Bay with Linda and his family to announce formally that his playing days were over. John and Linda are devoted and very Catholic parents. Word circulated that on many practice days John could be found early in the morning at the back of Sacred Heart Church in Tampa or St. Lawrence going to daily Mass. He never missed the team Mass. He was like many an admirer and remains a friend of Monsignor Laurence Higgins. When I asked if John and Linda would help me publicize our first ever Capital Campaign, “Our Journey in Faith”, they readily accepted and allowed the cameras into their home and holding their then two children they indicated how important their Catholic faith was to them.
The double whammy of losing John and Tony Dungy within the same short time period was difficult for myself and many others to accept. John was for me the living embodiment of loyalty, dedication, faithfulness, love for his family and community, and generosity.
Like legions of other people around here, I wish he, Linda and their children every happiness and success in their new lives together. It would be wonderful if they returned to the area but wherever they are, they will be an active part of this bishop’s happy memories of his time in the diocese. While I never made the mistake of praying for “John, our Bishop” out-loud, I often added silently and privately on a Sunday or Monday, “I pray for John, our strong safety.