Priest-seminarian b-ball: fitness, fun, vocations

| April 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

Father Patrick Barnes goes up for a shot against two St. John Vianney defenders during action at last year’s Priest-Seminarian Basketball Tournament at St. Agnes School in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Chaska native Father Nick VanDenBroeke never donned a Chaska High School Hawks basketball jersey in his high school days. But he played on his family’s driveway, and he never lost a love for the game.

He combined that with his love for priest and seminarian fraternity when he organized the first Priest-Seminarian Basketball Tournament in 2009 while studying at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. Now in its 11th year, the tournament brings together priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and seminarians from the St. Paul Seminary and St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Priests and seminarians will compete again this year at 6:30 p.m. April 26 at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria. The free event includes a 5 p.m. barbeque dinner.

“I thought it would just be really good for the (greater Catholic) community,” said Father VanDenBroeke, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale. “I really just wanted to play against the priests — and especially try and beat them.”

The competition offers an opportunity to build community among priests, seminarians and the laity, Father VanDenBroeke said. Held at rotating sites, the tournament each year draws more than 100 people. Two teams of seminarians square off in the first game, and the winner faces the priests’ squad for the title.

Guardian Angels in Chaska, Father VanDenBroeke’s home parish, hosted the tournament the first few years at its school.

Father VanDenBroeke said the opportunity for priests to come together motivates their participation.

“I have played in it many years,” said Father Patrick Barnes, pastor of St. Nicholas in Elko New Market. “For me, it’s a fun way to be with other priests (and) seminarians and do something I enjoy.”

The seminarian teams have their regulars, too. St. John Vianney junior Joe Wappes, 21, a member of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, played the last two years.

“We don’t get to see the priests all together that much, so it’s pretty cool to see them all together on a team and have interaction with them,” Wappes said.

The games promote vocations because fans get to see priests and seminarians having fun and competing in a popular sport, Father VanDenBroeke said. The tournament also provides an opportunity for priests to exercise, which can benefit spiritual life and growth in virtue, he said. Some priests are physically active throughout the year, but demanding schedules can make it difficult to find the time, he said.

Father VanDenBroeke said he plays basketball all year long in recreation leagues at the schools where he ministers — Holy Cross in Webster and Divine Mercy in Faribault.

He particularly looks forward to the priest-seminarian tournament each year.

“I enjoy playing the game, and it’s a chance to play competitively a little bit,” Father VanDenBroeke said. “I enjoy the social, the fraternity time with priests and seminarians, and bringing people together. I’s really turned into a great family night.”


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Category: Local News