James Breig at St. Anthony Messenger magazine offers an extensive interview with New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin, who led his team to the Super Bowl twice in recent years, about the influence of his Catholic faith on his life and career.
Here’s an excerpt:
As with most Catholics, Coughlin’s faith began at his Baptism, but he made clear during a recent interview that a belief system isn’t frozen in place in a single moment. Rather, he says, it evolves over time, through ups and downs.
“I can’t remember any one incident” when his faith was solidified, he says. “You go through stages; all young people do. I was an altar boy and master of ceremonies at midnight Mass and the Easter Vigil Mass. Then you go to a public high school, and you’re not quite as attached [to the Church] as you once were. I went to Syracuse University and became very fond of the Catholic chaplain there. I learned and grew along the way. It’s cumulative.”
Born in 1946 in Waterloo, a small town in western New York state, Coughlin was the oldest of seven children (and is now the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl). He credits his parents and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who taught him at St. Mary’s School, for providing a firm grounding in faith that never collapsed as he made his way through life.
Reflecting on what builds a Catholic, he says that “a lot depends on the strength of the belief of your family— your parents and what they believed. I went to Catholic grammar school through eight grades with the Sisters of St. Joseph, and that’s a big part of it.
“We were raised in a different time and in a different way. I’m a firm believer that that has an awful lot to do with the values I believe in. I’m very proud that my parents sent me to a Catholic grammar school. The idea of [sisters] devoting their lives to the preparation of the young was very obvious. That’s what I felt the whole existence of the Sisters of St. Joseph was: to pay tribute to God [by how] they taught their pupils. And they did a great job of it. There isn’t any question in my mind that my values, my grounding, the way that I was raised are all a part of what I am now.”