success stories

A Message from Lou Holtz to the Clergy

Taken from the Catholic News Service

Referring to the sex abuse crisis, Holtz said the church is "having a difficult time by some standards."

"My philosophy is not very complicated," he said. "God gave us a lot of wonderful powers -- the power of love, of faith, and to believe. But I believe the greatest power we have is the power to choose. We can choose our attitude."

During his first season at the University of South Carolina his wife had her second major cancer surgery, his son Skip was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness, his mother died days before the game with Florida, the university airplane crashed during a recruiting trip to Hilton Head Island killing the pilot, and the Gamecocks lost every single football game they played that year.

"I've been down on the bottom. I've had things go against me," the coach said. "But I can control my attitude. God put us on this earth with a plan. You can feel sorry for yourself or get up."

In preparation for his talk, Holtz phoned his friend, Bishop John M. D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., for advice on what to say to the clergy. The bishop told Holtz, "Remind them what was said at their ordination. Understand what you are doing. ... And follow the life of the cross."

"It is an awesome responsibility you have," the coach said. "There is no greater honor than the discipline and sacrifice it takes to become a priest."

The coach explained that his football teams share three core values, and he believes the church, family and country must share these same core values.

"Do what's right so people can trust you," he said. "Without trust, there's no chance."

"We have to do things to the best of our ability. People don't understand the power of goodness they have. People don't understand the greatness of God."

The third core value, the coach said, is to "care about other people."

Holtz noted that one of the great experiences he had at Notre Dame was working at the International Special Olympics in 1987 as a hugger. "I came out after that as a changed individual. Too many people pass judgment on one another."

Holtz closed his presentation by recalling a Friday night chapel service held following the Sept. 11 tragedy. The minister discussed the heroes who saved lives during the disaster. The coach said, "But think how much greater it would be to save someone's soul for eternity."