TAMPA, Fla. — On NFL Sundays, Father Chuck Dornquast goes from celebrating mass to celebrating Tampa Bay Buccaneers' plays on the sideline.

For eight years, he's served at the team chaplain for the Bucs.

What You Need To Know

  • Father Chuck Dornquast in the team chaplain for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • His role is to provide spiritual support for Bucs players and coaches

  • Dornquast's journey in faith began at a young age, turning to the Catholic church for support as he grew up seeing his father struggle with addiction

  • Dornquast says he's closer than he would ever have been to the NFL after pursuing priesthood

"It’s a powerful experience," Dornquast said. "I go from being in churches on Sundays to then being on a field for the football game." 

Dornquast has a front-row seat for some thrilling moments, including a Super Bowl victory. 

"These guys sacrifice for one another. Their families sacrifice for the sake of the team. And so, to the extent that I’m able to assist them in that, to be a presence for them, is really a great gift," he said.

He's there for the wins and losses — on and off the field.

"These guys, they work on Sundays so they don’t get to be tied into parishes like they typically would," Dornquast said. "So when they have a family crisis, when there is something difficult happening at home, or when they’re looking to get married or get a kid baptized, they reach out to me."

Dornquast's role is to provide spiritual support for Bucs players and coaches.

In a league that can be unforgiving, Dornquest strives to be a source of hope.

"I was shocked when I came to experience the NFL that players themselves really depend upon their faith. They have so much pressure on them," he said.

Dornquast's own journey in faith began at a young age. Growing up, his father struggled with addiction, and the Catholic church was a place of support.

"Thankfully, the Catholic church in Zephryhills received my mom and the five of us kids really well, and began to find ways to care for our family," he said. "So, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the toy drives, the canned food drives — those were things that my family benefitted from tremendously growing up."

Two of his biggest passions were always faith and football.

"It’s something my dad was somewhat disappointed (in) when I took steps toward priesthood, because doing so meant not pursuing football, or other sports or other career options," Dornquast said. "And so now, 8 or 9 years after priesthood, having made this decision, I’m closer now that I probably ever would have been to the NFL and participating with football if I had actually pursued his plan for my life, that instead, the Lord has shown that he’s never outdone in generosity and that he’s blessed the decision in following after him."

Now, as the Bucs team chaplain, both worlds have collided. 

As Dornquast guides players through every season of their life, his greatest joy is seeing the impact of faith on these players' lives.

"When someone lives in that place, there’s so much more confidence, so much more peace, so much more joy, there’s ultimately so much more generosity. When someone feels invested and cared for, it sets them in the place where they can then care and invest and love others," he said.