Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

QB Brett Favre's faith made an impact, too

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By Jeff Kurowski
3/20/2008 (1 decade ago)
Catholic Herald (

GREEN BAY, WI (Catholic Herald) - While the sports world stopped to listen to the March 4 announcement of Brett Favre's retirement, Catholic leaders in Green Bay and Mississippi also paused to reflect on the impact the future Hall of Fame quarterback had on and off the field.


By Jeff Kurowski
Catholic Herald (
3/20/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Diocese

Fr. Richard Getchel, pastor at St. Agnes Parish on Green Bay's west side, presided at Brett and Deanna Favre's wedding in 1996, and baptized their daughter, Breleigh, in 1999.

"I thought he would return, so it surprised me," he said. "I'm happy for him and the family. I sent Deanna an e-mail. She wrote back thanking me for my concern, which was nice."

Norbertine Fr. James Baraniak, chaplain for the Packers, attempted to reach the Favres in the days prior to the announcement. He was unaware of the pending retirement. Instead, Fr. Baraniak sought to share a special invitation.

"I received a proposal from the pope's advancement team for Brett, Deanna and Mike McCarthy to attend a papal Mass in Washington, D.C.," he said. "Ironically, I spoke to Coach McCarthy on Monday evening, likely right before he spoke with Brett. I finally caught up with Deanna, and we had a nice long conversation. She explained that it was an intense time, so they weren't answering any calls from the 920 area code. When I shared with her the proposal, she said if it was entirely up to her, she would give me an answer immediately, but she had to talk to Brett. 'You know that husband of mine,' she said."

Both priests spoke of their admiration for the Favres. St. Agnes was the family's home parish while they were in Green Bay. Breleigh and older sister Brittany both attended Holy Family School. Deanna was a regular participant at "Green and Gold Day" at the school, said Fr. Getchel.

'New guy's a priest!'

Fr. Baraniak first met Favre 12 years ago on a team flight. It is a moment, he will never forget.

"I didn't get the memo to dress formal on the plane," he said. "I was wearing a polo and khakis. When he saw me on the plane, he pointed me out and said, 'New guy.' When he later saw me in my habit, he was really surprised. He said, 'New guy's a priest!' That was our introduction."

Fr. Baraniak was with Brett and Deanna in Oakland when Irvin Favre, Brett's father, died in 2003.

"They are very impressive people," he said, "so there is a bit of sadness. For very young people, they have done very well considering all the difficult times they have faced."

Favre's playful demeanor was not only displayed on the field, said Fr. Baraniak. It was sometimes showcased at the team Mass prior to home games.

"There are more people at the Mass on the road, so at home, I really saw that personality," he said. "I remember I was getting ready to start a Mass, when Brett interrupted me. Jeff Thomason (former Packer tight end) was wearing a wild shirt. Brett stood up and said, 'Excuse me, Father, but JT, I just want to know if you're wearing one of those shirts that if you stare at it long enough an image appears?' Everyone was laughing."

The Favres are members of St. Thomas the Aquinas Parish in Hattiesburg, Miss. Fr. Tommy Conway, pastor, said he will miss trips to Green Bay for Packer games, but is happy for the family.

"It's a massive relief for Deanna," he said. "She loves the Packers, but she was concerned that something would happen to him. I think Deanna has shaped Brett Favre into the man he is today. I give her an awful lot of credit. They have faced adversity in their lives and they are both better people for it.

"I told Brett when he left for this past season that I was praying for two things for him," Fr. Conway added. "I wanted him to remain free of injury and to have a whole lot of fun. He was able to accomplish both. He really enjoyed the coaches and his teammates."

Catholic faith and charity

One way the Favres live out their faith is through their numerous charitable efforts, including the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation and the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation.

"I would hope that they will continue their charity work," said Fr. Getchel. "They may have to cut back, but I think it will always be important to them."

"What is great is that you see them doing it together," said Fr. Conway. "Deanna is actually very shy, but she believes in the cause, so she has taken on the role of being the face for breast cancer research. We are so proud of what Deanna and Brett have accomplished."

Bishop Robert J. Banks, bishop emeritus of Green Bay who has spoken with Favre several times at the annual Bishop's Charities Game, said the retiree's popularity goes beyond his success on the football field. People relate to his struggles with addiction to painkillers, deaths in the family and Deanna's battle with cancer.

"He's faced some tough challenges and he's handled them so well," he said. "He wasn't trying to hide from things. I admire how, in Deanna's book ("Don't Bet Against Me"), he let it all be told. He went through the early part of life like a lot of our young Catholics, but it turned out well for him."

Loyalty, unpredictability and humility come to mind about Brett, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Morneau.

"Brett was here for 16 years," he said. "This is almost unheard of in professional sports. I believe that Packers fans interpreted this as a sign of fidelity; that Brett really wanted to be here. He seemed to be saying, 'I love this organization and its many and varied members.' People responded to this with deep affection and admiration."

Fr. Getchel said he plans to see the Favres in the future. Fr. Conway stayed with him during trips to Green Bay and Fr. Getchel has a standing invite to visit Hattiesburg.

"The day they got married, I could never have imagined they would be here after all these years," he said. "I think they will be lifelong friends. Brett will always be a part of Green Bay. Bart Starr hasn't lived here, but he has always had a foot in Green Bay. I think it will be the same for Brett."

"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of them," said Fr. Conway. "I know they love Green Bay. He went out on top. He can always go back to Green Bay and be welcomed like the flowers in May."


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of the Catholic Herald (,official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wis.


More Lent & Easter

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event


Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2018

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

March 25, 2018

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

March 25-31, 2018

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

March 29, 2018

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

March 30, 2018

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 1, 2018

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts Catholic Online Shopping offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

FREE Classes on Lent from Catholic Online School

Our Mission is to Provide a Free World Class Catholic Education for Anyone, Anywhere. Help our Mission >

Easter / Lent News

From crucifixion to resurrection Watch

Image of

Christ is risen! Truly, he is risen! Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death. We know that God has the final word. And that word is love. ... continue reading

The Truth about Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday

Image of  Divine Mercy Sunday is not to be considered part of a private devotion.

Though it started out from a revelation that was made by Jesus to Saint Faustina, it is now an official feast in the Catholic Church. ... continue reading

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

God's Announcement: A surprise that moves your heart Watch

Image of How will you respond to the resurrection?

On Easter morning Pope Francis said God's announcement to his people always comes as a surprise, like the shock of the disciples who found ... continue reading

Jesus' death provides HOPE: Pope Francis' Easter message Watch

Image of Pope Francis on Easter 2018.

During his Urbi et Orbi Easter blessing, Pope Francis said Jesus' death and resurrection provide hope to a world marred by conflict, ... continue reading

The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter ... continue reading

The Lent and Easter Season... by

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.