You’ll likely find Fr. Dave Anderson doing one of two things: praying or helping the Redhawks –– and now the Seahawks –– catch their prey. Recently, Fr. Dave, the longtime chaplain to the Seattle U men’s basketball team and chaplain for Seattle U alumni, was hired to be the priest for the Seattle Seahawks.
Fr. Dave’s duties with the Seahawks involve celebrating Mass for Catholic players, staff and coaches before their home games at the Bellevue Hyatt. While he is excited to work with his favorite football team, Fr. Dave’s service to the Seahawks stems from his striving to serve God. “Part of Jesuit spirituality is encouraging us to go to the frontiers.” Fr. Dave said, “Where are those places that people cannot access the Eucharist? This is one of them.”
With a grueling schedule and Sunday games, worship isn’t readily accessible to many of the Seahawk’s devout. Dedication on the field can lead to a spiritual desert in the lives of professional athletes. That’s less likely to happen with Fr. Dave serving the 12th man and his five Catholic friends.
While he gathers with the whole team during team meetings, Fr. Dave presides a Catholic Mass for five team members –– four coaches and one player –– before each home game. “Here we have five men who are devout Catholics,” Fr. Dave said, “They want to celebrate Mass every week and during the season –– when they have Sunday games –– they will not be able to go to Mass because of their commitment to the team.”
Fr. Dave, who admires the commitment these men make to the body and the faith, carries Mass to them. Together, these five men and Fr. Dave pray and experience faith, connection and solidarity with one another before each home game. Together, God is felt.
God is felt at Seattle U, too. But Fr. Dave’s new position is a different job from being Chaplain to the men’s basketball team. “I have daily contact with the men’s basketball team,” says Fr. Dave. “I have direct contact with the Seahawks five times a year. My expectations with the Seahawks are that I have Mass with them five days a season.” Humility, like his clerical collar, is part of Fr. Dave.
Fr. Dave sees potential growth for his role, both at CenturyLink Field and Seattle University. “I would like to connect the Seahawks and the Redhawks,” he shared. “In the future, I want to be able to have Pete Carroll or a player come and speak on campus. What would they want to tell our students? What would they have to say to us? Pete Carroll has something to tell us of great value. He is a man of faith, living in a world often void of it.”
Fr. Dave furthered, “I want to bridge the Seahawks and the Redhawks. Part of this [new position] is discovering how I can act as a bridge.”
Building bridges isn’t new to Fr. Dave. He does it for a spiritual living. “Faith is all about relationships,” says Fr. Dave. After a short pause he adds, “Faith is communal.” Faith, like a sports team, like being an alumnus and alumna, is centered upon community.
Perhaps that’s why this position is a natural fit for Fr. Dave; his roles with Seattle University and his role with the Seahawks are centered upon being an incubator for faith and community. Working with the Seahawks is just an extension to what he’s already doing: stretching the reach of the Eucharist as he aids alumni, the Redhawks –– and now the Seahawks –– to reach their spiritual and physical feats. Together, with the help of Fr. Dave, let us pray (and prey).