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Jackie Robinson Foundation 2014 Awards Dinner

The church is called Refugio de Esperanza (Refuge of Hope), and Mariano’s wife, Clara, is its pastor and it is so much more than a magnificent stone building church to Mariano Rivera; it is a calling he has devoted years of his life and millions of his dollars to.

“It wasn’t me. It was the Lord. I was just the vehicle,” Rivera said.

The original Refugio de Esperanza started in the Rivera home in Westchester, but soon became so popular that they knew they had to find bigger quarters. More than three years ago, a close friend showed Rivera an abandoned stone church that was built in 1907 but was in such disrepair it was close to being condemned and demolished. Rivera walked in, eyed the collapsing roof, stood in the debris and waste, and told himself:

“This is it.”

The last two weeks have been filled with accomplishments. Rivera, 44, was at the Waldorf-Astoria to receive the 2014 ROBIE Humanitarian award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and Rivera called receiving the award “a privilege and an honor.” Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, and Rachel Robinson set up the foundation that bears her husband’s name in 1973, the year after Jackie’s death. The foundation provides scholarships, as well as numerous support services to “disadvantaged students of color.” Rivera was one of three people honored by the foundation Monday, joining former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill (lifetime achievement award), and chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp. Wes Bush (achievement in industry award).

Mariano is not alone in his finding God. Interesting enough his Daryl Strawberry came forward last summer and announced he was an ordained minister. You can read that story in: Newly Ordained All Star Darryl Strawberry: ‘Not A Baseball Player, Anymore. That Person Is Dead.

Good For him!

Superstar Baseball Player Builds Church For Wife In Major City  was originally published on