News & Events
Giants’ Pat Shurmur encourages men in Metuchen diocese to ‘make the world a better place’
April 04, 2019
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – A 20-year coaching veteran of the NFL and a lifelong Catholic, New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur spoke to men in the Diocese of Metuchen during a March 30 Men's Lenten Afternoon of Prayer in the Year of Spiritual Awakening.
Men from around the four-county diocese crowded St. James Church, where they heard from Shurmur and four other men in the diocese, who each gave personal witness talks. The afternoon concluded with a Mass celebrated by Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen.
At the start of the afternoon, Bishop Checchio introduced Shurmur, his longtime friend with whom he became acquainted during his time as the Catholic chaplain for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002-2003.
“He’s worked hard to be a dedicated disciple and friend of Our Lord,” Bishop Checchio said of Shurmur. “It’s that relationship with Our Lord that guides all the other areas of his life.”
Once Shurmur took the floor, he spoke of his trips to Rome to visit Bishop Checchio, who then served at the Pontifical North American College there, first as vice rector and then as rector.
“You know as you rise through the profession and you hit those high peaks and then you deal with adversity, a friend (like Bishop Checchio) is very, very important,” Shurmur said. “Because we’ve supported each other in good times and bad, he’s been a real inspiration and a constant reminder to me, my family and my friends, that we’re all here to just make the world a better place – to live a good life and do what we can for others.”
Speaking directly to the several hundred boys and men gathered, many of whom were fathers and sons, Shurmur emphasized the importance of building good and strong relationships.
In reflecting on his relationship with his own father, he said it shaped him in ways he can’t quantify.
“I really believe we’re a combination of what we deeply believe and what we have experienced,” Shurmur said. “Because of the way he helped me learn how to think and feel, and just the stuff he showed me, he helped shaped me in a way that there’s no way to quantify,” he said of his father.
He spoke of his experiences as a child, growing up in the Detroit area, and going to Mass every Sunday at Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Mich. He recalled how he would race home from Mass to watch Lindsey Nelson and the Notre Dame highlights, since there were no replays at the time.
Shurmur, who said he couldn’t remember a time when he missed Sunday Mass as a child, said, “My father would say, you think about it how you want, it’s the end of the week or the beginning of the new week, but we’re spending an hour together.”
While his father was raised in humble surroundings, Shurmur said he worked hard and accomplished a lot, but was happy and content with what he had, “which was unique,” Shurmur noted. He said his father taught him to live a life of compassion and to help those who can’t help themselves.
Shurmur, a father of four who has been married to his wife, Jennifer, for close to 29 years, said he prioritizes passing on the faith to his children, too. He said he remembered a conversation with his son, Kyle, a practicing Catholic and accomplished football player in his own right who holds passing records at Vanderbilt University, in which he likened the Catholic faith to playing and coaching. Both being a Catholic and playing and coaching run parallel, he said, because they both have to do with following rules, learning to play, correcting course when needed, and encouraging others.
As a faithful Catholic, Shurmur said he believes God drops his anchors in still waters.
“I believe that everyone in here can be an effective leader, but it starts by being a good follower,” Shurmur said. “And, really, to lead you don’t have to be anything extraordinary, you just have to live a life of character and courage.”
He noted three important facets that drive his faith. First, he said, he always takes time for some form of quiet reflective thought and prayer during his day. Then, he stressed the need for active, public and consistent involvement in the sacraments. Finally, Shurmur said, “You got to live your life and you got to try to make the world a better place and I think that’s what we’re all charged to do.”
Shurmur said that even when on the road, he tries to read and pray on a daily basis.
“I have a little prayer card that I have laminated,” Shurmur said. “The one thing about coaches, too, because we might get caught in the rain, is if you stand still long enough, they’ll laminate you,” he quipped.
While Shurmur leads a busy life, he said he at times pauses for a moment to thank God. He invited the men in the audience to do the same and again encouraged them to live a good life.
“When your feet hit the floor, just go live a good life, you can make a difference,” he said.