Yankees Pitcher, Mariano Rivera, to Retire from Baseball and Start a Church

Few can rival Mariano Rivera's nearly two-decade career as a pitcher for the Yankees, with a record of 631 saves. However, the Panamanian-American is far from sad to be retiring from his beloved sport and $10 million dollar contract at age 43. Instead, he's excited to pursue his other passion -- his Christian faith.

Pictured: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees smiles as he walks off the field at the conclusion of his team's game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankees Stadium on June 3, 2013 in the Bronx, NY. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
This week's New York magazine reports Rivera is establishing a church in New York called Refugio de Esperanza, or Refuge of Hope, where his wife, Clara, will be the pastor. A group of Pentecostal followers have already been worshiping in the Rivera's home weekly, as they wait for their new house of worship, which will fit more people.

House churches like the Riveras' are not so uncommon, and neither are women pastors; Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest growing populations in America today. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, more than two-thirds of the 52-million-plus Latinos in the U.S. are Catholic, but by 2030, that percentage could decrease by half, as many are joining evangelical Protestant ranks.

"I can't wait," Rivera told New York magazine about the church he purchased in 2011 for $2.5 million.  It should be finished with renovations in a month or two.

Rivera's retirement plan goes beyond just building a house of worship with an adjacent after-school program for at-risk kids. He wants to give help to whomever needs it by providing services such as haircuts, hot meals, Thanksgiving turkeys, toys at Christmas, and supplies for Sandy victims.

Through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, he provides scholarships to qualified youth, and sponsors youth centers and churches that implement educational programs for underprivileged families. Rivera has also funded church start-ups in Panama, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, California, and Florida, and New York.

"I haven't been baptized with the Holy Spirit," Rivera told New York magazine. "But I have seen it, and it's beautiful. That's what I want."

SOURCE: Kristina Puga
NBC Latino
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