ROCKVILLE CENTRE – – A new book called Apostolic Athletes contains essays by 11 priests and bishops on how their involvement with sports influenced their call to the priesthood. Diocese of Rockville Centre Bishop John Barres contributed an essay on how his athletic experiences shaped his life and how they continue to have a profound impact on his ministry.
“Most people see priests and bishops in the context of liturgical functions, so it seems unusual to them that priests and bishops would have any kind of life outside of that,” said Trent Beattie, who compiled the book. “Obviously, worship takes precedence over other things, but those other things are still there. I hope that young men will find this appealing, since they may have an idea that ordination would mean the end of any kind of recreation.”
The stories contained in Apostolic Athletes are part faith story, part sports story and, ultimately, the story of how each one of the authors felt God’s call to ordained ministry. What the chapters make clear is that a vocation begins as a small voice and, over time, spills over into all parts of life, including sports.
Apostolic Athletes is the fifth book Beattie has worked on. His previous book, Fit for Heaven (published in 2015 by Dynamic Catholic) was about how the Catholic faith influenced high-level athletes, such as former New York Yankees’ All-Star Mark Teixeira, L.A. Chargers’ Pro Bowl quarterback Phillip Rivers and former Major League Soccer All-Star Eddie Gaven. Through their stories he showed that faith can have a major impact on the lives of top sports figures.
In Apostolic Athletes, the reader can see how each man profiled struggled with his calling, his faith and all the issues young people deal with today.
At the end of his chapter, Bishop Barres summarizes the common thread that runs through all of the stories — that God can work through everything, including sports, to share His love.
“Put Christ at the center of your basketball experience,” said Bishop Barres. “Play basketball for the glory of God. Be Christ-driven and glory-of-God driven on the court, rather than ego-driven, and our Lord will take your experience of the game of basketball to a whole other beautiful and inspirational level that will impact your destiny and future contributions to the Church and the world.”
In addition to Bishop Barres’ chapter, Apostolic Athletes features the following clergy: Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield; Father Kevin Drew; Father Karl Marsolle, FSSP; Father Chase Hilgenbrinck;Father David Wells; Father Joseph Freedy; Father Richard Rocha; Father Alan Benander, O. Praem; Father Gabriel Lickteig and Father Thomas Haan.