Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bruce Smith: Gopher Star! All-American! Heisman Trophy! Saint! Saint?

As associate pastor of a parish on a college campus, the Rev. Michael Martin doesn't run into many candidates for sainthood. Nor did he expect to find one in the box that arrived last summer at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center, just a few Hail Mary passes away from the Gophers' football offices.

But inside, among the brittle newspaper clippings, yellowed letters and 30-year-old sermons, Martin found something akin to a miracle: a case to canonize a football player.

"It was," he said with a laugh, "the last place I would look for sanctity." By the time he finished reading about the life of Bruce Smith, however, it seemed perfectly natural.

Martin instantly converted to the cause. The Paulist priest has revived a 40-year quest to gain sainthood for Smith, the 1941 Heisman Trophy winner and Gophers All-America who died of cancer in 1967. The man who carried the Gophers to two national titles carried a deep well of humility and spirituality in his heart, which Martin believes lifted him beyond the realm of sports hero into a place far more mysterious and profound. [snip] StarTribune

The Catholic Spirit covered this story six weeks ago! It's good to see the Strib reading Catholic papers!

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