Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bishop On Ice... And It Ain't Thin, For Once

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd see a senior cleric dressed for an ice sport that wasn't figure skating.

But, lo and behold, the masked man at left is none other than Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago, getting ready to hit the ice at the Windy City's United Center for a practice scrimmage with the local National Hockey League squad, the Blackhawks.

After a feature piece on Paprocki -- who plays goal for an over-30 league in Chitown -- in December's USA Hockey magazine, the 'Hawks invited him to skate around and block some shots a couple weeks back. Catholic Online has the story.

I think the Daughters of Wojtyla might be a little confused (or scandalized) at the sight of a bishop with no pectoral cross in sight and could use a little primer on this one, so if you'll all indulge me for the benefit of your future priests.... The bishop is not wearing a vestment for the feast of Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, but the jersey of the local hockey team. No, they are not martyrs. The mask isn't meant to protect him from the sins of the vicious heterodox, but flying black discs called "pucks." No, the devil has nothing to do with those.

Well, Jersey Devils do, but to go into that at this stage would be input overload for you. Pucks are transported using "sticks." Hockey-sticks look like upside-down croziers -- just without the jewels and made of plastic.

Our lesson concluded, Bishop Paprocki on life as a goalie:
“There weren’t any rinks on the South Side where I grew up,” he explains. “It wasn’t until about 1997 that I really started playing on ice. I had to go to free skates and just go around in circles until I got the hang of it.

“I guess I must be good enough to play now though,” he laughs. “We’ve won the championship three of the last five years.” ....

“I think sports in general are a good training ground for whatever you do in life,” he says. “And I do think there are similarities between being in goal and being a bishop. In both situations you are at the center of the action and people are counting on you. Both are really intense games mentally.

“Being a goalie requires concentration and confidence, which are attributes I need as a bishop, and in everyday life.”
And he's also a marathon enthusiast, to boot.