.- On Nov. 5, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, known as the “Holy Goalie” of the Archdiocese of Chicago, skated with the Green Knights at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and addressed the team in the locker room before their game.
Bishop Paprocki, a seasoned athlete and marathoner, told CNA that he was able to practice with the team and talk to them before their game that evening. He spoke to the college athletes about the connections between sports and living the Catholic Faith.
“The connections that I see between sports and living the Catholic Faith,” explained Bishop Paprocki, “are that they teach us lessons for life. My faith gives me strength to run marathons, and running marathons teaches me endurance, which helps me to persevere when facing challenges in life. When I'm having a bad game and I'm giving up a lot of goals, I need to keep my spirits up and not give up hope. The same is true when faced with difficulties in life when things are not going so well.”
Bishop Paprocki told CNA that he is currently writing a book on sports and faith, which was enriched by his ice time with the Green Knights.
“My most memorable part of the experience was at the end of practice when Coach Tim Coghlin had us do a shootout drill, that is, one-on-one breakaways, individual shooter against goalie. St. Norbert All-American defenseman Nick Tabisz skated in alone on me. He faked a slap shot, I was fooled and went down, he moved to his left and attempted a wrist shot to my stick side.”
“Not giving up,” the bishop recalled, “in desperation I dove to my right and blocked the shot with the paddle of my stick. That brought a collective roar from the whole team as they banged their sticks on the ice, the traditional way for hockey players to cheer since it's hard to clap their hands wearing gloves and holding a stick."
“It still gives me goose bumps to think about it,” he said.
Bishop Paprocki then promised the Green Knights that he would return the next evening before their game against Bethel University and give them a blessing.
“I returned to the locker room to give the St. Norbert Hockey Team the blessing I promised. Before blessing them, I said I had one more word, especially for the goalies: confidence. We need to play with confidence. The word 'confidence' comes from Latin: 'con' + 'fide' which means, 'with faith.' We need to have faith in God and in ourselves in using the talents and abilities that he gave us.”
After the blessing, Bishop Paprocki skated out to center ice and dropped the ceremonial first puck to start the game. St. Norbert won 8-2.