Local seminarians prove to be good sports in various competitions

March 6, 2016

MUNDELEIN, Ill. — Beyond the chapel and classrooms, seminarians at St. Mary’s Seminary are testing their athletic gifts in various competitions around the state and nation.

In late January, a team comprised of Texas-based seminarians (the majority of them from St. Mary’s) participated in the 16th annual Father O’Malley Invitational, a basketball tournament held at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. This was Galveston-Houston’s first time at the event, which is supported by the Knights of Columbus and featured 16 seminaries competing this year.

The Texas team took on Conception from Missouri (a dramatic loss in OT, 37-32) and Our Lady of Guadalupe from Nebraska (27-21 loss) before defeating Saint Francis de Sales from Wisconsin (a 36-16 win).
Outside of the national stage, St. Mary’s Seminary also has established some friendly yet feisty rivalries with the other Lone Star State seminaries. In the annual Archbishop’s Cup, St. Mary’s is pitted against Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. This past fall, St. Mary’s defeated Assumption in basketball, lost in volleyball, but won in dodgeball (played instead of soccer due to rain) to earn bragging rights for the year.

In recent years, a core group of seminarians have been leading St. Mary’s efforts to get seminarians involved in sporting competitions. Outside of the annual tournaments the seminarians already participate in, organizers are looking into facilitating competitions with other nearby campuses and even a competition between current seminarians against priest-alumni. The competitions are traditionally open to the public.
“Some may ask, ‘Why do we play sports in the seminary?’” Michael McFall, a Galveston-Houston seminarian at St. Mary’s, said. “We play in sports tournaments against other seminaries because it helps keep us in good physical condition. It also helps build up fraternity by working with other seminarians towards a common goal. It is great for the public to see seminarians and priests playing sports because it shows the world that we are strong, healthy and masculine men.”

And besides, “Who said priests and seminarians cannot be competitive?” Deacon Nicholas Ramirez of Galveston-Houston said.

Just recently, St. Mary’s Seminary had payback on their mind against Holy Trinity Seminary after the Irving-based seminary won the inaugural Rector’s Cup in 2015. 

Throughout the competition, Deacon Preston Quintela said the Texas team embraced the “’One Team First’ attitude built on Jesus Christ, and working together for one common goal.”

The home team was able to deliver, sweeping Holy Trinity in all three sports — winning in basketball 42-35, flag football 20-14, and soccer in penalty kicks, 4-1. The competitions were held at St. Mary’s and nearby Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, with numerous supporters attending all three competitions. 

“It was very refreshing to get out there and compete as a team,” Tim Hayter of the Diocese of San Angelo, a seminarian at St. Mary’s, said. “I am proud of how our team came together and fought hard to win all three games. It was great getting to meet and compete against the guys from Holy Trinity Seminary. I thoroughly enjoyed helping my teammates give those young bucks a lesson in humility and I am proud of how our whole seminary came together to host the event.”