The Victory is in the Walk: Linda Del Rio on Equipping Catholics in the Next America
“The Napa Institute has remained steadfast in the goal to inspire the world of the new evangelization, embrace a deeper understanding of our faith and cultivate better stewardship. Attending has been a refreshing time for me and encouraged me in my consulting business with athletes, corporations and organizations in sport and faith. Leaders and representatives of the Catholic Church in areas of common interest are in dialogue with each other, directed by the hands of God and distinguished by the token of grace and providence. There we all fundamentally desire to grow, learn, encourage and plan for the future of our church. As the sessions are completed each day it is clear that we do not seek apostolates, they seek us. Only God can disclose where we are going and when. Allowing Gods divine wisdom to interact within us and be open to grow not only in wisdom, humility and faith, the Institute has been a true blessing. Today it has become harder to defend our faith in a secular society, morality is our duty, and a virtuous life with faith is the goal to eternity.
Equipping Catholics in the next America is a daily process that requires time alone with yourself and God. A re creation of the old self into a new soul with the intent of showing the face of God to a world that desperately needs to serve and love one another. Look at it as a gift of the precious moment and the power within that moment in time that you are given the opportunity to serve with openness and from love.
For the past 30 years Sport has been my life, whether I was the fiancée of an NFL player, a volleyball and football players mom, a coaches wife, a consultant to sport missionaries, or leading women in sport organizations in charitable giving and fellowship. The platform of sport is a very powerful gift that leaves me awestruck. Pope Francis states we are to “smell the sheep.” In the sport world you must first earn trust, and this takes actions and effort in mind, and soul. When the trust is achieved through the love of God, the fellowship is concrete, immediate and close at hand. A trust built on the battlefield lasts a lifetime, in sport it is deep and passionate.
Serving through a charitable event hosted by the National Football League or our family foundation with the mission of the needs of abandoned children both spiritually or physically, I have found these moments to be the most relevant significant moments and where I have felt true gratification. It has not been the Superbowls or the big games. True happiness in sport is serving in the community God has placed us in, the food kitchens, domestic violence shelters, Big Brother Big Sisters, Children’s Hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, and so many more charitable wonderful organizations to many to mention. We have had the opportunity to partner with organizations such as the Salvation Army, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Athletes for Christ, FOCUS Varsity Catholic. It is and will always be why I love embrace and am humbled to serve in sport. This past fall I was elected to the Board of Councilors in the American Association of The Order of Malta, my husband Jack is a Knight as well. The decision to throw my hat into the ring of serving on the Board for Malta was inspired by seeing the work done globally as a photographer in Rome for the Holy See Press Office. Malta internationally evangelizes through touching and serving millions of young and elderly in every event globally large and small. Malta is there.
My husband Jack, and I met with Bishop Barber of the Oakland Diocese within a week of accepting the job offer of Head Coach to request a team chaplain that would not only celebrate mass, but a young man that could also create communion and fellowship with our young athletic men. I asked one of our player wives to take the lead to form bible studies for the season. Sport wives move and have no support or family and are thrown into the fire very easily through the pressures of the media, and living life in a bubble. They need each other, and lean on each other. I always say my sisters in sport understand the trials of the sport celebrity life better than my biological sisters. This season we had several bible studies for the women and our team Chaplain, Father Derek celebrated mass twice a week in the Raider practice facility. He was available for confession or just to be a trusted good man the young players to talk to. For this is huge in the spiritual realm, our workday is Sunday and many young men and women in the world of sport are not getting the privilege of celebrating mass.
The business of sport is a huge corporation with talented executives that build cohesiveness and relations between employees. In the business world it is the same. Coaches and players, staff members, coaches and player wives welcoming newly hired wives or significant others to promote progress through union in all phases of our team. Everyone has the same goal just as any big corporation.
In Vatican City, The Council of Laity and Council of Culture both have Sport Divisions thanks to Saint John Paul II the great athlete. For several years, I have had the privilege of presenting at International Sport Conferences on the subject of faith family and sport . We globally believe sport is the great platform to reach all of humanity and through faith it can be God’s great interpreter.
This move to the Bay Area was my 40th move in the NFL. For years I had heard about the Raider Family, but was astounded at the sense of brother and sisterhood within the organization. We hosted an impromptu alumni dinner in Napa during our training camp, 80 former players and their wives attended. Jack and I believe the single most important action we as leaders can take to motivate is to involve them fully in the progression of winning. In or out of a boardroom, on or off the field how blessed we all are when through the struggles and battles we finish victorious.
I believe in the perfect moment and that God makes no mistakes, He is where we are, and loves us as we are. Wherever you are drawn to serve God is there. The Victory is in the walk.”