UP Catholic 11 17 2017 E Edition Page 7

D eshaun Watson, the talented rookie quarterback of the Houston Texans, is many things. An incredible athlete. A gifted pass- er. An intense competitor. A critical thinker. And, before he tragically went down with a season-ending knee injury in a non-contact practice drill in early November, he was charting a course to be named Rookie of the Year. After being inserted into the starting lineup early in the season, Watson turned a once anemic, strug- gling offense into an offensive juggernaut. He threw for more touchdown passes (19) in his first seven games than anyone in NFL history. He had five touchdown passes in one game, tying an NFL record. He quickly ascended to be the teams best quarterback, but in so doing, arguably became one of the most im- portant people in the Houston com- munity. For all of his accomplishments and athletic skills, including leading Clem- son to the national championship, its his heroics offthe field that run circles around his in-game play. His heart, his compassion for others, shines like a beaming light. Early in the season, Watson strolled into the cafeteria at NRG Stadium in Houston and handed over a $29,000 game check to three cafeteria workers hard hit by Hurricane Harvey and the massive destruction it left behind there and the gulf coast. All he simply said? Hopefully that helps. The cafeteria workers just stood there in awe. Watson understands pain and living without. As a young child, he played pickup football games with drug deal- ers and gang members. Like so many others, he easily could have foregone his athletic ability and succumbed to the temptations of drugs and crime. Yet, a house something many of us, quite frankly, take for granted changed his life and played an immea- surable role in shaping the man he is today. As a young boy, Watson and his fam- ily lived in government apartments in Georgia, smack dab in less-than-ideal surroundings that bred fear. His mother wanted a better life for the 11-year-old Watson and his sib- lings. What mother wouldnt? So, she successfully filled out the paperwork to receive a Habitat for Humani- ty house. And, like that, his world forever changed when former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn donated a home to his family. Liv- ing in his own home, having his own room, helped him focus on one day playing a role in changing the lives of others, people like him. That house on the hill became a gift from God and inspired Watson to do good for others. It was a life-changing moment. The home provided shelter, but in so do- ing, provided him hope. He and his Clemson teammates went on to help build more Habitat for Human- ity homes. And, not surprisingly, he became the face of the organization, and to this day, is actively involved in donating money and paying it forward to make others dreams come true. Professional sports organizations have their share of Deshaun Watsons. Theyre on nearly every team. Unfor- tunately, however, their good deeds are often drowned out by those who steal off-the-field headlines for all the wrong reasons. The house, Watson says, set him on his inspirational path. But the hope that came with it gave him the where- withal to dream bigger. And when those dreams mean helping others, its a gift that keeps on giving. And that, in the eyes of God, is uniquely special. Houston? We do not have a prob- lem. Houston, we have a solution in Deshaun Watson. Editor's note: LaJoie is a member of St. Paul Parish in Negaunee. He welcomes reactions to this column at jlajoie@charter.net. www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC November 17, 2017 7 APPRECIATION ISSUE January 19, 2018 If your organization, parish or business would like to place an advertisement of support for one of our women religious or seminarians in formation, please contact Deacon Steve for pricing. 1-866-452-5112 upc@new.rr.com FORMATION Thank you Monsignor Kaczmarek and everyone else who works at Immaculate Conception Parish in Iron Mountain, you truly make our parish feel like home! Prized NFL rookie makes bigger headlines offthe field FROM THE SIDELINES Jim LaJoie Pope Francis says, choose everlasting life, not death BY HANNAH BROCKHAUS CNA/EWTN NEWS During a special Mass at St. Peter Basilica, Pope Francis said that in contemplating death we are reminded of our ultimate purpose and how the choices we make here on earth will de- termine whether we eventually spend eternity in heaven. A fundamental mark of the Christian is a sense of anxious expectation of our final en- counter with God, Pope Francis said during a Mass for the souls of the cardinals and bishops who have died in the past year. Death makes definitive the 'crossroads' which even now, in this world, stands before us: the way of life, with God, or the way of death, far from him. Pope Francis reflected on the longing found in the words of the Responsorial Psalm: My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? These words, he said, were impressed upon the souls of the cardinals and bishops that were remembered during the Mass. They served the Church and the people entrusted to them while keeping their eyes set on the prospect of eternity. Todays celebration of the Mass can help us to do the same, he said. In praying for the dead we are confronted with the reality of our own death, and though it may renew our sorrow for our friends and family members who have died, it also increases our hope. We especially find hope in the Eucharist, he said. In the Eucharist is the physical expres- sion of Jesus words in the Gospel of John: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. When we receive the body and blood of Jesus, he said, we unite ourselves to his faith- ful love and to his victory of good over evil, suffering and death. In this divine bond with the charity of Christ we can know that communion with those who have died before us is not merely a desire, but that it becomes real, he said. DANIEL IBEZ CNA Pope Francis during a Canonization Mass held in October in St. Peter's Square.

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