Nuns Welcome Super Bowl Fans to Phoenix

Fans flocking to Phoenix for the Super Bowl weekend have an unusual option when it comes to lodging. The Benedictine Nuns of Our Lady of Guadalupe are renting out rooms, offering an oasis of quiet amidst the bright lights and fast living that swirls around the big game.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Super Bowl Sunday is here. Later today, the New England Patriots face the New York Giants in a game that could be one for the history books, if the Patriots complete their undefeated season. In the host city Phoenix, many are just stirring, dry-mouthed and hung over after the traditional night of revelry before the game.

Not so for 20 tranquil souls who found a unique refuge from Super Bowl excess. From Phoenix, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: I found a couple of laminated, postcard-sized party advertisements lying on the ground in downtown Phoenix. They pretty much summed up the part of Super Bowl week that has nothing to do with football. There was the Dirty South Takeover party hosted by Ludacris, and the Ultimate Strip Off Finale at a local gentleman's club. At the other four Super Bowls he attended, Patriots fan Clint Mills may have heeded the call, but having come all the way from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, with a son who recently broke his leg, Mills chose instead to hang out last night at the monastery.

Mr. CLINT MILLS (New England Patriots Fan): Better to be here with, you know, other guests. It's more of a camaraderie, you know, versus, you know, again, he and I sitting in our room at the Motel 6 watching television, 'cause I'm not going to exactly be going to the Playboy party tonight with my 6-year-old in a wheelchair.

GOLDMAN: At Our Lady of Guadalupe monastery in southwest Phoenix, there are no TVs in the rooms, no telephones, no alcohol, no smoking. But for the Super Bowl steal price of $250 a night, the Benedictine sisters who live there opened up their monastery for out-of-towners attending today's game. And they offered a rare commodity in any Super Bowl city.

Ms. LINDA CAMPBELL (Prioress, Our Lady of Guadalupe): We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to have a quieter place to come to in the midst of all of the activity.

GOLDMAN: Sister Linda Campbell is prioress of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Ms. CAMPBELL: I suppose that living in a monastery, I have come to appreciate quiet greatly.

(Soundbite of waterfall)

GOLDMAN: A soothing manmade waterfall is the centerpiece of the monastery grounds - grounds that have become too cramped for one of the usual businesses here, hosting retreats. The main reason for the Super Bowl room rentals is to raise funds for more land. Sister Linda says this week should bring in $8,000, a nice contribution, she says, to the land acquisition fund.

But it's not all business for Sister Linda. Sitting in the monastery's empty chapel, she explains she has season tickets for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and has loved football since childhood.

Ms. CAMPBELL: As a kid growing up, I had four brothers. And with them and my dad, my mom and sister and I had to either like football or not have any enjoyment on Sunday afternoons. So we got in with the whole family.

GOLDMAN: Knowing both football and God, I'm sure you've heard players and coaches interviewed, and at the end of a game they'll say, it was God's work. It was this kind of thing. How do you react to that?

Ms. CAMPBELL: Well, I really believe God's on the side of all players. So I don't think that's exactly how it works out. I think what is really important is when I pray for a team, I pray that each player plays their best.

GOLDMAN: In the chapel, sunlight beautifully illuminates the stained-glass windows near the ceiling. In desert earth tones, a painted mosaic on the back wall depicts Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. This morning, there's a regularly scheduled 10:15 Mass, six hours before Super Bowl kickoff - plenty of time for monastery guest Clint Mills to attend both.

Mr. MILLS: I'll probably pray for, you know, good health and, you know, that the game is played fairly. You know, you don't want to see players get hurt on either side of the ball, certainly. But the way the Patriots have been playing, I'm not sure they even need my prayers. They seem to be doing pretty good without them.

GOLDMAN: Sister Linda is with Mills. She's pulling for the Patriots because she wants to see history. Another monastery resident, Olivia, is pulling for the Giants. After all, a little friendly rivalry never hurts, even at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, Phoenix.

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