Priests find a new way to serve

Priests from around the world will take to the tennis court in the US this month (Pixabay)

Forget about the French Open and Wimbledon, the International Tennis Tournament for Priests gets underway later this month in Lincoln, Nebraska. Source: CNS.

Organiser, Fr Brian Connor, said 46 priests have so far registered to play, hailing from Poland, Philippines, Slovakia, Canada, Argentina, Indonesia and the United States.

The event is not just about tennis, Fr Connor said.

Each morning Mass will be celebrated: on June 28, Mass will be at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ; that day is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests; on June 29, Mass will be at St. Peter Church for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul; and on June 30, Mass will be at North American Martyrs Church, which is Fr Connor's parish.

This is the first year the tournament has been held in the US, said Fr Connor, who, with the support of Lincoln Bishop James D. Conley, offered to host it in his city "as an effort to grow the base from America and spread the enjoyment of what we love doing; which is playing tennis and fraternising with brother priests".

What's now an annual international competition started in Poland as a table tennis tourney for Polish priests, he said, and moved to the tennis court in 1996. It was then held annually in various Polish cities, especially Krakow and Warsaw. In 2012, it went international and has been in Italy, the Philippines and now the US

Tennis "is a game for all ages," said Fr Connor, 59, noting he has played the sport with his 17-year-old nephew and also plays doubles regularly with an octogenarian.

In the tournament, "we have some who are 30 years old and several who are 70 years old," he said.

During the tournament, "we pray together, eat together and battle on the court. ... At times, it is best to have referees to step in and call lines," he said. "Also, with language barriers, someone else keeping score is a relief".

"We have Mass together and lots of breviaries (are) seen at the courtside," he added. "The guys have a good time, joking, visiting, watching the matches and hanging around others who love the sport of tennis."


Tennis tournament offers serious competition, time for prayer, fraternity (Catholic News Service)

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