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by Michael Sudhalter
Father Clint Ressler of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church remembers the days when he wanted to be an NFL wide receiver.
“My (football) career was cut short by a lack of talent,” Ressler said.
But the Crosby native still made it to the NFL. He’s been a team pastor for the Houston Texans since the franchise began playing games in 2002.
“(I made it to the NFL) God’s way, not mine,” Ressler said. “I have one of (only) 32 jobs (like this) in the world.”
Ressler was the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston when the Texans began looking for team pastors. Then-offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, a devout Catholic, wanted to make sure the team had a Catholic priest conducts Mass for the team’s Catholic players and coaches.
On the nights before Texans games, Ressler conducts Mass and gives Holy Communion for the players and coaches who wish to attend.
He doesn’t travel with the team, but sometimes, visiting teams will request that he conduct mass for them, as well.
When the Texans dismissed head coach Dom Capers in 2006, Ressler wasn’t sure if he’d be retained by the franchise.
He was confident that he’d stay on when Houston hired Gary Kubiak, who graduated from St. Pius X in 1979.
Whenever they see each other, Ressler gives Kubiak neighborhood news because many of his St. Rose of Lima parishioners were classmates, friends and neighbors of Kubiak.
Ressler attends practices and part of training camp, so that the players will “see I’m a part of the time…a familiar face.”
He stands on the sidelines – his collar clearly visible – during games at Reliant Stadium where he interacts with a wide variety of people.
“You have doctors, reporters, photographers and the chain crew,” Ressler said. “A lot of people are never going to go to church, but they ask me questions. I have more ministry with those folks than the players.”
Ressler, who’s an avid runner, is involved with Catholic Athletes for Christ and has previously worked as a team pastor with the Houston Astros and Championship Auto Racing Teams.
When he returns from Reliant to conduct mass at St. Rose of Lima, his parishioners often have a comment, question or joke about the game earlier that day.
“If we’re winning, it changes everything,” Ressler said.