Tag Archives: Hail Mary

New Hill-Murray stadium named for prayer

September 15, 2016

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Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium has its grand opening on Friday at Hill-Murray. (Photo courtesy of Hill-Murray School)

Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium has its grand opening on Friday at Hill-Murray. (Photo courtesy of Hill-Murray School)

Hill-Murray’s football team will kick-off its new stadium on Friday in a familiar way.

Pioneers football players ask for the intercession of Mary with the title, “Mary, Queen of Victory” before each game, which the new stadium is named after. That prayer tradition goes back to the 1971 according to Hill-Murray president Jim Hanson, who also graduated from the Maplewood school in 1973.

“Coach Terry Skrypek, who went on to coach at the University of St Thomas for over 20 years, used to say a Hail Mary before every game that he coached,” Hanson said.

Skrypek coached hockey, baseball and football for the Pioneers and joined the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame after a 40-year coaching career. He led the Pioneers to the 1982-1983 state hockey title and amassed a 325-44-3 record.

“His brother, Father Greg Skrypek initiated a specific saying to follow when he was our chaplain, ‘Mother, Mary of Victory’ and the team would chant ‘pray for us,’” Hanson added. “This has become now a long held tradition for all of our teams and a cheer you will hear in the new stadium on Friday night.”

Mary’s title of ‘Queen of Victory’ didn’t come out of nowhere at Hill-Murray one day in the 1970s. Queen of Victory originally came about after Don John’s navies defeated the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. Pope St. Pius V asked all the faithful to pray the rosary because of the Turks’ threat to Italy. The Holy Father declared Oct. 7 the feast of Our Lady of Victory, which later became Our Lady of the Rosary.

While Hill-Murray athletes invoking Mary, Queen of Victory doesn’t guarantee a Pioneers victory, it does witness taking a moment for prayer in public. Likewise, the stadium’s name will call to mind the Mother of God for all competitors and visitors.

“The family who purchased the naming rights of the stadium are long time members of the community with a history of participation in extracurricular activities, and they asked that the name reflect the prayer that they all said and remember fondly rather than name the stadium after them or their business,” Hanson said.

Mary Queen of Victory’s field will remained Higgns Field however. Father Higgins served as a priest and teacher many years at the school.

The family who Hanson mentioned had asked for the field name to remain. Father Higgins, who now resides in Michigan, received an invitation for the grand opening but can’t make it because of health reasons.

Hill-Murray’s new stadium will also have the blessing of Archbishop Bernard Hebda when he comes on Friday in the early portion of a day-long grand opening celebration. Festivities conclude with the Pioneers football team (0-2) taking on Hastings (1-1) at 7 p.m. in a key East Metro District Red Division match up. The Pioneers will look to bounce back from two lopsided road losses at Tartan and Henry Sibley.

Mary Queen of Victory’s first varsity football game will make two stadium grand-opening contests for first-year Pioneers coach Peter Bercich. A former linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, Bercich provides color commentary for KFAN’s coverage of Vikings games. The Vikings kick off its first regular season home game at the new US Bank Stadium on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Bercich, who played college football at Notre Dame, has much familiarity with Catholic schools. He also attended Providence Catholic in New Lenox, Illinois where he emerged as a prep football star.

In May, Bercich took over a Hill-Murray football program that didn’t win a regular season game in 2015. Nonetheless, he and the team have a state-of-the art facility to work with, which can’t hurt in the program’s rebuilding process.

Mary Queen of Victory has an artificial turf field and a new track surrounding it. Both came as needed changes from the previous stadium.

“We had a six-lane dirt track, basically an agriline road like at your cabin,” Hill-Murray athletic director Bill Lechner said. “We weren’t able to host a track meet or have practice for our kids at all. When it rained, it was pure mud.”

The old grass field didn’t fare much better. Late-season Pioneers football games looked like mud bowls.

“We’re on a high water table, so the grass field was great if it was 70 sunny, but it got muddy tore up so quickly like some fields do,” Lechner said.

Supporters of Hill-Murray raised the $3.5 million needed for Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium. Teams of all levels at the school, the physical education classes and the band each make use of the new stadium.



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Is the Hail Mary scriptural?

June 2, 2011


Rosary on Bible

For some people, ‘Hail Mary’ is the name of a rap song. Others know it as a long, against-all-odds football pass. Catholics, even if they don’t pray the Hail Mary, are familiar with it as the title and opening of a prayer also called the Angelic Salutation, one of the most familiar prayers of the Church.

Since this week we commemorate the Visitation, when St. Elizabeth spoke a greeting to the expectant Holy Mother which forms part of the Hail Mary, I thought it would be a good time to consider what exactly people are saying when they pray this prayer.

Many may be surprised to learn that words of the Hail Mary, including those of Elizabeth come mostly from scripture.

The prayer begins, “Hail (Mary) full of grace, the Lord is with you,” which are the words of the Angel Gabriel when he appeared to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to be Jesus’ mother (Luke 1:28). The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that she is full of grace because God has just made his dwelling in her; she is the Ark of the Covenant from which Christ will be born.

In reality, this is God’s greeting, spoken to Mary through Gabriel, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, so when we greet her this way, we acknowledge the regard that God has for her and “exult in the joy he finds in her.” (CCC 2676).

The second part of the Hail Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb, Jesus” is also taken directly from the account of St. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary who comes to visit her older, also-pregnant cousin. (Luke 1:42) The Bible records that Elizabeth was “filled wit the Holy Spirit” when she gave Mary this greeting and is the first of many generations to call her “blessed.” Mary is given this greeting because she believed in the fulfillment of God’s word. (CCC2676)

The next line of the prayer, “Holy Mary, Mother of God,” reflects Elizabeth’s wonder that “the mother of my Lord should come to me.” (Luke 1:43) “Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother.” (CCC2677)

The Hail Mary closes with the words, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” With this final petition we should “piously and suppliantly have recourse to her in order that by her intercession she may reconcile God with us sinners and obtain for us the blessing we need both for this present life and for the life which has no end.”

Since Mary is not God, why do Catholics pray this prayer more often than any other prayer? The highpoint and focus of the entire Hail Mary prayer is Jesus. (CCC435) The Church teaches that all prayers to Mary go directly to God. And as St. Louis de Montfort said, Christ came to us through Mary so it makes sense that we should go to him through his Mother. But that’s another topic …

Some may wonder, if this is such an important prayer, why do people say it so often? A story about St. Francis of Assisi shows why each Hail Mary honors the Blessed Mother.

When the Lord asked Francis to give him something, the saint replied: “Dear Lord, I can give you nothing for I have already given you all, all my love.” Jesus replied, “Francis, give me it all again and again, it will give me the same pleasure.”

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