During his four years in the priesthood, Fr. Jason Nesbit, CSV, has said Mass for a variety of worshippers, but on Sunday he experienced a first: He celebrated with Bears’ coaches, a few players and staff.
Fr. Nesbit serves as associate pastor of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, located adjacent to Olivet Nazarene University, site of Bears training camp and former home to St. Viator College.
Fr. Richard Pighini, CSV, pastor had received a call from Brian McCaskey, head of training camp operations for the Bears, asking for a priest to come over and say Mass. But his request had a tight timeline.
“It all went very smoothly,” McCaskey said Monday morning. “Fr. Jason was great and finished in exactly 24 minutes — with one minute to spare. We had a nice turnout and we really appreciated having him there.”
The Bears have held training camp in Bourbonnais since 2002 and while an occasional coach or player have been spotted at the parish, this was the first time the staff had reached out to the Viatorians.
Fr. Jason said he was aware of the tight deadline, of needing to complete Mass so players and coaching staff could move on to morning meetings.
“It’s hard, because once people enter the room, I knew this would probably be the most peaceful moment they get for most of the day,” Fr. Jason said. “I wanted to respect their privacy — and also insure that the main reason for going over was to lead them in prayer and insure those who were there receive the sacraments.”
They did. In fact, the Bears appreciated Fr. Jason’s celebration of the liturgy so much, they asked him back on Aug. 16, as one of the last things they did before breaking training camp and preparing for the start of the season.