Dolce: It was about more than just basketball

May 23, 2017

On April 21, the seminarians of St. Mary’s Seminary played a basketball game against a team of priests who reside in the Archdiocese. The game took place in a packed gym at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, and the score of the game did not matter.

It was one of the coolest celebrations of Catholic faith that I’ve experienced that took place outside of a Church. The gym hosted 3,000 fans that added to the excitement as they cheered every play and supported current and future priests. It was an electric environment that was much bigger than the game of basketball.

The fans who came out to support got to see men who give their lives to Jesus participate in a simple game of basketball. It gave the people of God a chance to see priests and seminarians in a different environment than they normally see. They saw us having fun.

They saw us encouraging each other and working as a team. They also heard from priests and seminarians throughout the game how much the priesthood meant to us. The crowd also had the chance to see students from the various Catholic high schools in town during the halftime show.

It was a great event and I think everyone who came had a wonderful time. Several of us hope this game becomes an annual event because it was such a spectacular one! It was definitely bigger than basketball.

One of the most powerful moments for me was looking into the stands and seeing all the people who I’ve been able to walk with on their journey of faith. They have trusted me in some of their most difficult and joyful moments in life.

And they came to cheer me on during a basketball game! Many times in my priesthood, I’ve been the spectator in the faith life of others. I’ve been there to cheer them on or reassure them that life is going to be okay and that God loves them.

I’ve been blessed to see them overcome challenges and see God’s love working through them. It was moving to see so many people whose lives the priests have touched cheering us on throughout the game. They were there because they love their priests and seminarians, so they cheered us on during every play!

The people of God know that their priests love them. We are there for some of the most important moments of their lives and they appreciate the fact that we bring them God’s grace in the Sacraments. And they showed up in huge numbers to show their love for priests and seminarians!

The game was maybe a little more fun for the priests because we prevailed 50 to 46 in the game, but this event was so much bigger than basketball.

It was about Catholics coming together to celebrate love: the love God has for us, the love that priests and seminarians have for the people we serve, and the love that we have for each other as God’s beloved sons and daughters. 

Father T.J. Dolce is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations.