For the past decade the Rev. R. Tony Ricard has been the Catholic chaplain for the New Orleans Saints, and for that he is eternally thankful.
The Team chaplain's preseason prayer worked so well last year that he has written a new one:
GOD OF LOVE AND MERCY,
On Feb. 7, 2010, The New Orleans Saints and the great Who Dat Nation ventured into the world of our dreams. On that day, the Who Dat Nation finally saw our dreams fulfilled. On that day, we became the undisputed champions of the National Football League.
For this, Lord, we say, thank you!
Like David before Goliath, we knew what it was like to face insurmountable odds and return home victorious.
Like Daniel in the Lions Den, we knew what it was like to face savage beasts and still walk with the swagger of a king.
Like Elijah under the Broom tree, we also knew what it meant to be discouraged and grow tired of constantly having to "wait till next year."
Well now through your grace, next year finally got here!
We no longer have to sit back and wonder what it would be like to win the Super Bowl.
We no longer have to sit back and wonder what it would be like to hold the Lombardi Trophy.
We no longer have to sit back and wonder what it would be like to wear the ring.
Our days of wonder are over because, "We are the world champions!"
Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we have come through the fires and emerged singing songs of praise.
We are no longer walking to the beat of a funeral dirge. We move to the triumphant sounds of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints?" We are now dancing like David danced and singing like Solomon sang.
On this blessed day, we come before you, our God, singing songs of thanksgiving.
Thank you, God, for blessing us with a team of players with immeasurable talents and unquestionable commitment.
Thank you for a squad of coaches that are filled with limitless creativity and a willingness to "go the extra mile."
Thank you for a front office with outstanding owners and awesome administrators.
Thank you for Tom and Gail Benson, Rita Benson LeBlanc, Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, Pete Carmichael Jr., Gregg Williams and all who work so hard to develop our championship organization.
Thank you for Archie Manning and Danny Abramowicz, Dalton Hilliard and Rickey Jackson, Bobby Hebert and Fred McAfee. They laid the foundation for this modern-day Who Dat Nation.
Thank you for Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper, Garrett Hartley and Thomas Morstead, and all of Our Boyz. They finally brought the Who Dat Nation to that land of all our dreams.
And, thank you, Lord, for being with us, every step of the way. Without your grace, we would have never made it to the Promised Land.
As we now embark into the world of the defending champions, may we never forget the laughter and the tears that got us to the Super Bowl. May our hearts be filled with gratitude and our minds flourish with new dreams. May our players, coaches and administration work hard to reach their fullest potential.
And, if it be your will, through the intercession of our heavenly New Orleans Saints, St. Francis Cabrini, St. Katherine Drexel, Blessed Francis Seelos and Servants of God -- Mother Henriette Delille and John Paul II, may the earthly New Orleans Saints once again bring excitement to the entire Gulf Coast and transform our "Who Dat" into a "Two Dat" with a 2011 Super Bowl victory in Dallas!
In your name we pray,
The Rev. Tony Ricard
Pastor, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, and New Orleans Saints Catholic team chaplain