For many in Western New York, the Buffalo Bills are like a religion. At least for 16 weeks every season, Bills fans congregate to celebrate sport and fandom on a Sunday. This Sunday, that fandom and actual religion were set to collide in Orchard Park, NY, the home of the Bills’ stadium, New Era Field.
At Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park, Confirmation mass was scheduled at 1:15 p.m. for this Sunday. The Bills game kicks off at 1:00 p.m. in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. With more than 70 teenagers set to undergo the sacrament, the bishop of Buffalo stepped in to make a change.
”The bishop makes it clear that confirmation is much more important than sports.” Says George Richert, director of Communications for the Buffalo diocese. “But confirmation should also be a happy day and a memorable day in the life of any Catholic, and we wouldn’t want that distraction.”
Bishop Richard Malone agreed to do two Confirmation masses; one at 10:30 a.m. in addition to the 1:15 p.m. time.
“Of course we believe that sacrament of confirmation is more important than a Bills game, but we realize how important the Bills are,” says the church’s parish life coordinator Melissa Potzler. “We’re happy they’re in the playoffs and we’ll be praying for them.”
The Bills haven’t been in the playoffs since the 1999 season.