Bless Them, Father

Father Vincent Fortunato is undergoing a conversion. Well, at least in football terms. He serves as the New York Giants team chaplain.

Father Vinny, a Capuchin Friar based in Union City, occasionally serves as the New York Giants’ team chaplain, traveling on road trips, presiding over Mass, and watching the games from the sidelines.

The trouble is that Father Vinny has been a hard-core Jets fan since his boyhood on Long Island. And this virtually required that he despise his team’s crosstown rival.

“We were all Jets fans on my block,” he recalls. “The peak was when they won the Super Bowl with Joe Namath. But even when they had lousy years, I would never root for the Giants. It’s that sick thing we grow up with.”

Call it a spiritual awakening, but Father Vinny has learned it’s much harder to hate a team when you know the faces behind the face masks. “There are personal connections now,” he says. “You see their human side and you start to take their losses personally. If they played the Jets now, I’d have to root for the Giants.”

He may have abandoned his childhood allegiance, but Father Vinny is serving a higher calling—and forging some funny memories. “The guys in San Diego thought I was the Padres’ mascot. They were wondering what I was doing.”

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