"The priesthood is the greatest fraternity on earth," he said, noting that the event is an excellent opportunity to strengthen this community. He said the friendships develop quickly because of the solidarity of their vocation.
"Generally, we priests enjoy recreating together because we have an appreciation for the challenges each of us face in our priestly ministry on a daily basis, so we know how valuable a break from the work really is and we appreciate being able to refresh our minds, bodies and souls together," Eickhoff said.
Although he does not get to play tennis as often as he would like, he said tennis and the tournament promotes a well-balanced life: recreational and spiritual.
"Bishop [Glennon] Flavin, who ordained me, encouraged us priests to 'work hard, pray hard and play hard' so as to keep a healthy balance of work, prayer and recreation in our lives," he said. "Tennis continues to be one piece of the puzzle that helps provide balance in my life."
Similarly, MacLean said the event is an opportunity for fun, but he said it is also a "pretty serious" competition. Having already lost nine pounds from training, he said he is ready to return to the court to redeem himself from last year, when he lost during the first round.
Besides the fierce competition, Maclean said he is looking forward to the spiritual companionship. He said the priests will enjoy more than just court rivalry, but times in Mass and prayer as well. He said the priests have a strong love for tennis but, primarily, the men share a deeper, sacred bond.
"I think spiritually celebrating the sacraments and the Eucharist with our brother priests is a great way to start our day before the competition begins. We are priests first so we are rooted in the sacrifice of our Lord and that's the bed rock. I guess you could say that tennis is the icing on the cake."