The Spirituality of Sports
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1978. After ordination, he studied law at DePaul University College of Law and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1981. Working as a parish priest at St. Michael Church in South Chicago, a neighborhood with high unemployment due to shutdowns of the local steel mills, Fr. Paprocki co-founded the South Chicago Legal Clinic to help answer the need for legal services for the poor. He still serves in a volunteer capacity as President of the organization, now called the Chicago Legal Clinic.
In November, 1985, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin appointed Fr. Paprocki Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago and in 1987 sent him to do post-graduate studies in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He completed his doctoral degree in 1991. Father Paprocki then returned to his previous position in Chicago as Vice-Chancellor and was appointed Chancellor in March, 1992, serving in that capacity under Cardinal Bernardin and then under Cardinal Francis George, following Cardinal Bernardin’s death in 1996.
Concluding his service as Chancellor after two terms in office in June, 2000, Father Paprocki studied Polish language and culture at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. In January 2001, he was appointed Pastor of St. Constance Parish, serving primarily a large immigrant community from Poland on the northwest side of Chicago. Pope John Paul II appointed him to serve as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago on January 24, 2003. Cardinal George named him Liaison for Health and Hospital Affairs in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Bishop Paprocki was elected Vice-President of the Illinois Catholic Health Association and Vice-Chairman of the John Paul II Foundation in Rome. Bishop Paprocki is Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance as well as the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. In addition to English, he speaks Polish, Spanish and Italian, and he reads Latin. On June 22, 2010, Bishop Paprocki was installed the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. In May 2013 he received his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Why does hockey have so many rules? Do we still need to have penalty boxes? Can’t we get rid of offside? And why is practice so important? What’s the big deal with the Commissioner? And coaches? And referees? Why can’t they just let us play? Anyone involved in hockey – players, parents, fans – would never take any of these questions seriously. Without the rules, there would be no hockey. And without the drills there would be no thrills. And yet Catholics ask similar questions about the Church all the time. Why does the Church have so many rules? Why do we have to go to confession? Why do we need priests? And what’s the big deal with the Pope? Why does the faith have to be so difficult? Can’t we just play? If you have ever needed help explaining the faith to your children, your friends and family, or even your foes, this is your new playbook. The Catechism of Hockey is one of the most unlikely, but effective Catholic resources for the New Evangelization.