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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

020618 Fr Hoare eaglesFather Pat Hoare and Lisa Tavares, a member of the St. Matthew Church Faith Formation Team. Tavares is a die-hard Patriots fan. (Photo provided by Father Hoare)CHARLOTTE — Life-long Philadelphia Eagles fan Father Patrick Hoare may have asked the parishioners at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte to pray that his team would win Super Bowl LII, but he said he wasn’t optimistic that they would win.

“It was a great experience leading up to the game. I was excited for them to be in the Super Bowl,” said Philadelphia native Father Hoare. “I can’t say I was optimistic. I was hopeful though. Seeing the Eagles win was a dream come true. It’s never happened, ever.”

Prior to Feb. 4, the Eagles hadn’t won a Super Bowl and had only played in the game twice before. The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33.

“We’re long suffering fans. Tough and faithful. We support our team, loudly,” Father Hoare said. “That’s the environment I grew up in. We never win. We’re always pretty good. But we never quite get to the big game — or win the championship.”

The weeks leading up the Super Bowl were fun around the parish, Father Hoare said. Parishioners, students and staff took part in the fun — making football shaped cakes and buying Father Hoare a Super Bowl hat and shirt.

On Super Bowl Sunday, when Father Hoare called the children up for the Children’s Liturgy to dismiss them, he told them that in the Gospel Jesus goes to the people who are sick and in need and helps them.

He told the children that they, like Jesus, should help and pray for those in need.

“So today, we should all pray for the Eagles,” Father Hoare told the parishioners. “The congregation groaned and laughed, and some yelled back ‘no!’”

Father Hoare said he told them they had to listen to him since he was their pastor.

When Faith Formation team member Lisa Tavares, a Patriots fan, said it wasn’t fair to ask the children to pray for the Eagles, Father Hoare said “being a pastor sometimes has its advantages.”

Not saying having the nation’s largest parish praying for the team was the difference. “I'm not sure if God is an Eagles' fan, but the prayers surely didn't hurt,” Father Hoare said.

Facing maybe the greatest quarterback of all time with the Eagles back-up quarterback, Father Hoare didn’t expect his team to win.

“I was just hoping it wasn’t a bad game — that they wouldn’t get blown out,” Father Hoare said. And with more than two minutes left and the ball in Tom Brady’s hands, Father Hoare said he was sure the Patriots were going to come back to win the game like they’ve done time and time again.

“When they stripped the ball from Brady that was the first moment I was like ‘That’s what I was waiting for. The moment where Tom Brady wasn’t immortal.

“Then it was a race for the clock. When Brady threw the Hail Mary pass at the end, I looked and the clock was 0. I turned to my friend and said ‘There’s no more time. They won.’

“I was hysterical. I couldn’t believe there was no more time on the clock.”

The St. Matthew family is enjoying celebrating with Father Hoare, as well.

— Kimberly Bender, online reporter