Portales priest understands vaule of sports

By Helena Rodriguez: CNJ staff writer

Sports is so powerful in our collective psyche that everybody wants to win, says Father Tobin Hitt, pastor of St. Helen Catholic Church in Portales. And for this, Hitt said that Pope John Paul’s designation of a new sports department at the Vatican to help the Catholic church evangelize is a great idea.

“The real victory is getting to heaven. It is good that us Christians are trying to make athletes and that people are excited about that, but we must also realize that the final victory is better,” Hitt said. “Sports can teach us teamwork, which is what Christians call fellowship. We’re supposed to be on the same team, working for the good of all.”

Hitt himself is known to play soccer and five years ago, with his urging, a soccer field was built on the grounds of St. Helen’s and is heavily used.

“We’ve had soccer teams throughout the years. The first one was called The Missionaries. We were on a mission for Christ and on a mission to bring soccer to Portales,” Hitt said. “The second group is called the Pescadores, the fishermen for Christ. They are competitive people who are good at hooking people for the gospel.”

According to Hitt, the Greeks started the Olympics and made an idol out of the human body. “Our faith comes out of the Jews. They had more respect for God’s revelation and God’s strength and power. We can go too far in sports with the fact that we’re competitive and like to win. But God gave us these bodies and they can be turned to the glory of God.”

Hitt pointed out that church league softball, as well as other sports, are other ways churches of all denominations have fun and compete while also realizing they are Christians. “In this part of the world, football, basketball and Jesus are pretty popular.”