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New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) enters the field wearing Saints color rush uniforms at the start of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. The Saints won 48-7

Ben Watson retired this offseason.

But that hasn't stopped the former New Orleans Saints tight end from continuing to contribute off the field.

Watson is doing his part to help rebuild three recently burned Louisiana churches.

The three churches — St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas — were burned in a 10-day span from March 26 to April 4.

Watson reached out to the pastors of the three churches, as well as the Rev. Freddie Jack, head of the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association, on Friday. 

"In speaking with these pastors I am in awe and inspired by their faith and courage, comforting their congregations and family members," Watson said in a text message to The Advocate.

"Through sadness and shock they spoke of forgiveness for the arsonist and grace for tomorrow. Most importantly, they spoke of being overwhelmed by support from people of goodwill and all religions from around the country. And they were humbled by what God has already done through this series of events."


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Holden Matthews, 21, was arrested Wednesday on three counts of simple arson of a religious building.

"While I reserve judgment on the man arrested for this crime until proven guilty, the fact that black churches were burned to the ground is a reminder of the fear and pain so many communities have repeatedly experienced since emancipation," Watson said. "This trauma resides deep within all of us, black and white, in America." 

Donations for the three churches can be mailed to this address:

Seventh District Baptist Association

Seventh District

P.O. Box 281

Ville Platte, La 70586

Donations can also be made by clicking this GoFundMe link

"It is imperative that we show this community and the entire country that these types of acts do not represent who we are," Watson said on Twitter. "And most importantly, as the body of Christ, we suffer alongside our brothers and sisters whenever tragedy, persecution or loss happens."

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Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.