Psst! Harbaugh Brothers and Family (and Ravens' Owner) Are Devoted Catholics

A Google News search ths morning on "Harbaugh brothers Catholic" (not in quotes, sorted by date, with duplicates and originally omitted items), returned 24 items. A broader search at the Associated Press's national site on "Harbaugh Catholic" (not in quotes) came up empty. This is disappointing, given that both brothers are by all accounts very active in and devoted to the Catholic Church.

The stories found at Google News were predominantly from Catholic-oriented publications, with the most notable exception being one by Matthew Barrows at the Sacramento Bee, whose story comprised 15 of those 24 listed results. Excerpts from that Thursday piece, much of which was about the Harbaugh brothers as youths, are after the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Harbaugh brothers harbor different styles

Jim Harbaugh ... arrived for his first day at Iowa City Catholic Grade School on crutches and wearing a walking boot. At recess, he tossed the crutches aside and, with an unquenchable desire to compete, joined whatever game -- kickball, football, dodgeball -- the other kids were playing.

By the time Jim finally was freed of the boot, it looked like it had tumbled down a mountain side.

"It was beat to hell," said childhood friend Marty Hanrahan. "I've never seen anyone compete like he did when he was in elementary school."

... Sister Agnes Giblin ... taught both Harbaugh boys in the third grade. Her assessment of Jim: "He was loud, very intense and very competitive. My joke always was that he thought his desk was a football. I'd say, "Jim! Put it down!'"

And of John: "Very laid back, very quiet."

... Sister Giblin remembers a shy, smaller student who wasn't good at sports and whom the other kids picked on. That is, until Jim started being his protector.

"Jim took him under his wing and made sure no one made fun of him," she said. "I think about that very, very often."

On Saturday, a story at Catholic News Agency described the brothers' faith and works:

Fr. Edward Inyanwachi, pastor of St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park, Calif. described Jim and his wife Sarah as “active parishioners” and said the parish will “be rooting for him to win in this big game.”

“We are proud of the work he has done with the 49ers,” Fr. Inyanwachi told CNA Feb. 1, “but even more proud of his faith in Christ as what keeps him grounded in life.”

Jim, a father of six, spoke with CNA last summer about his work with Santisimo Sacramento, a Catholic sponsorship program to aid impoverished families in Peru.

During a trip to visit some of the charity’s recipients, he said, “I’ve always been struck by the attendance and the joy they have for Mass,” adding that the pews are filled with faithful at daily evening Masses.

“You can only describe that as the fruit of the Holy Spirit,” Jim said.

In an interview with Catholic Review, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s newspaper, John shared that he prays during games, not to win, but “for God to stay close to me.”

The Ravens coach and father of one said he strives to look out for his team as a shepherd would his flock to keep them, “moving in the right direction to get them to the pasture we want them to graze in.”

John, who is a parishioner at The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland, Md., also revived the long-dormant practice of organizing the Ravens’ Mass on game day.

“He’s very prayerful during Mass and very attentive to what I have to share in the homily,” Father Christopher Whatley, the team’s chaplain told the Catholic Review. “He’s there to gain some spiritual nourishment.”

It's a shame that a pretty obvious press filter doesn't allow the secular world to know more about the Harbaughs' clear religious devotion.

While in the neighborhood, though, I should give props to Judy Battista at the New York Times, who did an outstanding job portraying Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti on January 30, including in these excerpts:

... In 2000, Bisciotti purchased a minority stake in the Ravens, then largely stayed hidden, trying to learn from Modell. That, Billick said, eased the transition for Ravens employees who might have been caught in a tense situation. Even after Bisciotti took full control of the team in 2004, Modell was a frequent presence, watching games from a suite at the stadium and practices from a perch on a golf cart.

“He treated him with dignity, compassion and made him feel he was still part of the organization,” the Giants owner John Mara said. “A lot of owners would not have handled it the same way. They would have loved to push the guy aside.”

... But it is at Ravens games that the full snapshot of Bisciotti appears. He has attended preseason games in shorts and flip-flops, and his closest friends — many of them from his youth — mingle in his box with his mother and an occasional priest, a reflection of his strong Catholic faith and his support of religious charities.

“When you get to Steve’s level of success, he worked really hard, you’re really grateful for how far you’ve come, you’re really grateful for the people who helped you,” said Kevin Plank, a friend of Bisciotti’s and the founder of the Under Armour apparel company, which is based in Baltimore.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.