Today Haven is Executive Director for the "Seeds of Hope" program - a Catholic Education campaign within the "Hearts on Fire" program of the Archdiocese - where Haven is in constant contact with the Archbishop in working together to better Catholic School Education through tuition assistance for inner-city parochial schools and parishes, allowing them to remain solvent and viable in giving all children the treasure of a solid Catholic upbringing. "Itís a known fact," states Moses, "that Catholic schools are thriving in the suburbs and barely surviving in urban areas. Through Seeds of Hope we are playing a necessary social and economic role for Catholics in the inner city. This program, while not the total solution, addresses the issue to assure a positive education. And education is the answer to giving structure at an early age where these kids will have an alternative to the drugs and crime scene. Through Seeds of Hope we can infuse those areas with sound education and hope that these kids and their families can be viable, responsible citizens who can go on to greater things." Like his namesake of Old Testament times, this modern Moses is helping lead his people out of bondage to the promised land of confidence, self-assurance, self-esteem, and self-reliance where they can be well-educated young men and women who will become the cornerstone of responsible, moral leaders of tomorrow - both in society and in the Church. From this program already the seeds of vocations are being planted, thanks to the nurturing of the Archdiocese and the experience and total commitment of this former pro who has become an even greater role model after retiring his NFL uniform.
Havenís "Egypt" was South Central Los Angeles where, as the oldest of six children, he grew up in the Watts area, known for its urban upheaval, crime and poverty. But, unlike many of his neighbors, Haven and his siblings were blessed with dedicated and solid Roman Catholic parents who realized the importance of the Catholic faith through education. Through their unwavering sacrifice, all six Moses children received twelve years of Catholic education. "Because of my parents, all have grown up for the better and helped contribute to their Church and society," beams Haven. After eight years at St. Leoís school in Watts, Haven matriculated to Fermin Lasuen High School in San Pedro. This Catholic prep school is named for the Franciscan priest who assisted Blessed Junipero Serra in establishing the California missions. It was at Lasuen High where football beckoned Haven. There he attracted some attention by college recruiters but, after graduation, opted to stay close to home by enrolling in junior college for two years. It was at LA Harbor JC where he caught the eye of two well-known "prophets" of the game - Don Coryell and John Madden. Coryell, recognized as a genius of the modern passing game, would go on to coach the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers during the era of "Air Coryell." At the time he was recruiting Haven he was head football coach at a Division II school, building a powerhouse down south in San Diego called San Diego State. Madden, who everyone knows went on to coach the Oakland Raiders to victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl XI in Pasadena in 1977 and then to even greater recognition as the "voice" of CBS and FOX teaming with play-by-play pro Pat Summerall of Dallas, was the assistant coach for the Aztecs. In fact, over the years San Diego State, rather than Akron, Ohio, should really be called the "cradle of coaches" and the font of success stories. One of those success stories is Haven Moses who went on to star for the Aztecs from 1966 to 1968 where they only lost one game and were National Division II champs both years, soundly defeating a powerful Montana State team quarterbacked by Dennis Erickson, now head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, and the next year knocking off, in the playoff Camellia bowl, San Francisco State, who were led by signal caller Bob Toledo at quarterback. Toledo is now head coach of the UCLA Bruins. In 1968 Haven was rewarded for his efforts with the recognition of being proclaimed "All-American," the first modern Aztec player to receive such an honor which garnered him the golden opportunity of being picked ninth overall in the NFL draft, taken as the Buffalo Billsí number one draft choice. However, before he joined the Bills he had some unfinished business. That, of course, was to ask a classmate - someone special he had met - to share the rest of his life with him. Her name was Joyce, and today she shares the same name as Haven - one she has happily carried for thirty years as his wife and mother of their two sons, now 25 and 22 respectively. Haven and Joyce made sure both boys received the same sound Catholic education they were afforded.
At Buffalo Haven was teamed with a quarterback who would go on to even greater prominence in national politics - one Jack Kemp. Kemp writes in this year's Super Bowl program that during the "1960ís the American Dream was only a distant hope for many of my African-American teammates and friends. Pro football had given many of us a magnificent opportunity, but other segments of Americaís society still were trapped in ignorant and hateful habits of thought and behavior that precluded too many from being seen and treated as equal." As a young black growing up in Watts and then experiencing life in the NFL, Haven saw this firsthand, but his Catholic upbringing saw him through it and propelled him to do all he could to give the good and the bad to God and let Him guide. "The fame, the pressure, the good, the bad, I never thought of situations like that," recalls Haven. "Because of my upbringing I was able to keep everything in perspective. I looked at every situation as Godís way of testing our faith. God puts you there for a reason. By drawing on your faith you can gain that inner strength and a peace and tranquility settle in that canít be described." Though Haven excelled as a wide receiver for the Bills, it wasnít until he joined the Denver Broncos that he finally reached the NFL promised land - the Super Bowl in 1978. Haven and his teammates lost to the Cowboys twenty years ago in Denverís first of four Super Bowls. Though it had to be disappointing to Haven, it wasnít the end of the world. Because of his faith and education he knew God had a reason. There are so many parallels to sports and life," Haven explains, "that enable you to rise above it all. Athletes, especially today, are elevated to a plane that is unreal. Theyíre human beings who work in a pressured environment that cause them to respond to responsibilities - not always in the way that we want kids to imitate. In the Seeds of Hope program I tell the kids that if they want to pattern their life after someone, first see if their personal life matches with their professional life. For young people today role models canít be those bigger-than-life images of these sports heroes, but rather people who are there for you everyday - the parents, relatives, priests and nuns who are instrumental in your daily lives."
That is great advice from one who lives what he preaches. Havenís own role models were always his parents, along with priests and nuns who guided him along the way. He keeps everything in perspective, and he daily calls on Jesus and His Blessed Mother for that inner strength for They are the focal point of his faith. The fatherly role-model of St. Joseph is another who Haven draws strength from, as well as his patron saint St. Christopher who he attributes to always protecting him. With someone like Haven Moses to emulate the children of urban Denver have a bright future ahead of them.
God works in strange and mystical ways and Haven truly feels he was led to Denver for a special reason. "Not just the fact my wife and I wouldnít live anywhere else, but I truly believe God chose Denver geographically as the center of family values. We have just the right environment for this to take place. Like a rock, thrown into a pond, the ripple effect spreads evenly across the water. This area is all about family. That ripple effect is having an impact with such a positive response in Denver and reaching out farther and farther to show how we can all work together perpetuating our faith and reinforcing the good in man. If more can do this the young men and women of today will grow to be the future role models with a strong sense of values and morals." Havenís assessment ties in with the fact that the Rocky Mountain area has been the seedling area for such movements as Bill McCartneyís Promise Keepers - an evangelical Protestant movement geared for husbands and fathers. In addition, many messengers and visionaries have revealed, through private revelation, that Denver would become the hub of a revival of family values. Haven Moses is playing a major role in fulfilling these prophecies. This renaissance comes from dedicated leaders like Haven who, having retired from the Broncos, went to work for Corporate America. After fifteen successful years with this company, he was asked to begin Seeds of Hope. "I jumped at the opportunity," exudes Haven, "Here was an opportunity to take my experiences and apply them again. Everyone needs to be repotted, to learn and to grow. Though we all strive to get a formal education, we can never stop learning. Every day is a reinforcement, each experience elevates us to the next level."
Come this Sunday, while the Archbishop sits with Pat Bowlen praying and hoping fervently for a Broncos victory at Qualcomm Stadium, Haven will be watching on TV with Joyce and her parents in San Diego. Oh, Haven had a ticket to the game, of course, but he donated it to his good friend Chuck Muncie, the former Charger great. It wasnít for Chuck himself but rather for some lucky young inner-city youth who might not have been able to experience the big event first hand had it not been for the Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation and the generosity and kindness of Haven Moses. But then, what else would you expect from someone who has given so much to the youth? Maybe a Broncos victory?!? "That would be great!" enthuses Haven as he concludes our phone call to pick up Joyce so they can catch their plane to San Diego for the weekend festivities and, more importantly, to be with family.
We asked Bishop Banks if he would be going to the game Sunday and he said, in a way, for he was escaping the cold frozen tundra of Wisconsin for the warmer climes of Havana to join the Holy Father at the final Papal Mass. The Bishop referred to this event as even bigger than the Super Bowl, dubbing it the "Papal Bowl." Bishop Banks had wanted to add a little incentive to his friendly wager with Archbishop Chaput by inducing the latter to wear a cheesehead hat to the Archbishop's next Presbyterial Meeting in Denver should the Broncos fall short, but thought better of it. Bishop Banks, who has been head of the Green Bay Diocese for seven years after serving as an auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, is confident the Packers will repeat. Last year he feasted on Lobster after winning a similar bet with his former boss.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Chaput, who has been in Mexico for three weeks undergoing intensive accelerated training in Spanish, is heading back to Denver this week. However he will make a short stop in San Diego this weekend as the personal guest of an influential Catholic in the Denver Archdiocese - namely the owner of the Broncos Pat Bowlen who will host the Archbishop and a priest-friend of his from South Dakota in the owner's private box for the game. No word yet whether San Diego's Bishop Robert Brom will join them.
This Super Bowl takes on a strong Catholic flavor with the Archbishop in attendance and the Catholic ownership of both teams. While Mr. Bowlen is sole owner of the Broncos, Green Bay is publicly owned with thousands of Wisconsin Catholics holding shares in the team. On the field there is a strong Catholic presence as well. Beginning with star quarterback Brett Favre and a host of others including tight end Mark Chmura. Others are Jeff Dellenbach, Santana Dotson, Mike Prior, Marco Rivera, Jeff Thomason, and Frank Winters to name a few. According to team chaplain Steve Newman, no one lives their faith more sincerely than Notre Dame grad and outstanding punter Craig Hentrich. Some of the Catholic coaches who serve as inspiration to the Catholic Packer players include defensive whiz Fritz Shermer, as well as the quartet of Gill Haskel, Tom Lovat, Mike Sherman, and Bob Valesente. Longtime Catholic team chaplain Father John Blaha will be there with the team in San Diego.
With the Denver Broncos a few of the known Catholics on the team carry a lot of weight including sturdy wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, center Tom Nalen and defensive stalwarts Mike Lodish, Steve Russ and all-pro Harry Swayne from Rutgers.
The Packers may claim more Catholics on the team as well as being heirs to the Lombardi legend for Vince Lombardi was a staunch Catholic. This editor attended St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota with Vince's son Vince Jr. and we knew first-hand that Vince never wore his faith on his sleeve but lived it fully. For his successes he had a trophy named after him; the same trophy these two teams will be battling for. While the NFL has Lombardi's trophy, we suspect Lombardi has his trophy in Heaven. As for the outcome of Sunday's affair in San Diego, don't underestimate the prayer-power of the Archbishop of Denver, who would seem to have an "in" with the Holy Father after his brilliant and inspirational speech to his fellow bishops at the American Synod calling for a return to striving for personal holiness. If Denver does pull off what many say "would be a miracle," the Archbishop has indicated he will not celebrate or rub it in. Rather he will stay around after the game to minister to heart-broken Green Bay fans, consoling and counseling the cheeseheads.
Yet Bishop Banks is confident the Archbishop will have to make a hasty exit. And don't forget the odds that Archbishop Chaput's compadre-in-para-mutuel will be in Havana with his holiness at the same time the big game is going on. So who has the better "in" with the Pope is up for conjecture since we were unable to reach the Holy Father for a comment, but we strongly suspect he will remain neutral. After all, he has more pressing matters at hand. Guess, we'll have to leave it up to the great Coach above. No, not Vince Lombardi, but rather the Almighty One. They don't come better than that! Deo Gratias!