Archbishop Hebda joins Holy Angels and Hill-Murray for football opener

| September 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda presided for a Mass with Hill-Murray and Holy Angels high school football players before their Sept. 1 game. Courtesy/Holy Angels

Academy of Holy Angels in Richfiel kicked-off its high school football season against Hill-Murray of Maplewood Sept. 1 with Archbishop Bernard Hebda visiting.

He celebrated Mass in the school’s St. John the Evangelist Chapel for both Catholic school teams at 4 p.m. before the 7 p.m. game. The archbishop also led a pre-game prayer at the StarDome, Holy Angels’ stadium, and did the coin flip.

“We’ve been telling our kids just about how big of a deal it is [and] how rare of an experience it is for both teams and schools to be able to have someone like that be able to address and lead us in prayer,” said Holy Angels head football coach Jim Gunderson.

Holy Angels normally has a Mass before its football games with Father Mike Tix, the school’s chaplain. Hill-Murray also has Mass for its players regularly before games, which second-year Pioneers coach Pete Bercich instituted. He looks forward to the opportunity for his team join the archbishop for Mass.

“We’re all very honored,” Bercich said of his team.

Holy Angels athletic director Michael Kauztman invited the archbishop after the recent formation of the Catholic Sports Network, which will broadcast the game. Kauztman said he wanted the archbishop to come in order to highlight the meeting of two Catholic schools on the field.

“We in the Catholic system frequently have a lot of special traditions and history,” Kautzman said. “I don’t know if the story is told frequently enough.”

As a tradition at Holy Angels home games, the players and fans gather in the courtyard by a St. Joseph statue for a post-game prayer. The coaches also address the players there afterward.

It went well for Holy Angels Sept. 1 in a 47-6 rout of Hill-Murray. The Stars, state contenders in Class 4A, mounted a 34-0 lead in the first half on efficient offense and stymieing defense. The Pioneers didn’t sniff the end zone until late in the half.

More opportunities for Catholic schools to play each other became apparent when the MSHSL adopted districts for football in place of conferences in 2015. Six Catholic schools play in the Suburban Districts.

Kauztman and Jerry Pettinger, the athletic director of Benilde-St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park, reached out to Peter Waggoner about finding a way to broadcast some of those matchups. Known for his broadcast work with ESPN 1550 AM in Minneapolis, Waggoner is one of the managing partners for Sports Content Management, which helped form the Catholic Sports Network.

Kauztman said it serves as “having some sort of forum to get the word out there for potential students who may be looking at high schools and their parents [too].”

The online network will carry five football matchups this fall between Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The broadcasts can be found at


The Catholic Sports Network football schedule:

Benilde-St. Margaret’s at DeLaSalle, 2 p.m. Sept. 16

DeLaSalle at Holy Angels, 7 p.m. Sept. 22

DeLaSalle at Hill-Murray, 7 p.m. Sept. 29

Holy Angels at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 7 p.m. Oct. 6



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