Basketball Helps Priests Teach New Jersey Students About Vocations

Basketball Helps Priests Teach New Jersey Students About Vocations

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Father John Michael Patilla prepares to pass the basketball to a priest teammate. (CNS photo/John Blaine)

HOLMDEL, N.J. (CNS) – Students at Saint John Vianney High School expected their recent pep rally to be fun, colorful and filled with good-natured competition. But they were completely taken by surprise during the pre-Christmas celebration when six priests ran out onto the basketball court for a friendly exhibition game – all with the intention to teach about vocations. The basketball game was a way “to reach out and let them know that priests are approachable and they, too, can enjoy hobbies,” said Father Michael Wallack, priest secretary to Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton and diocesan director of vocations. He said he hoped that through the game, the message was conveyed that priests “don’t always just stay in the church all week, waiting for Sunday. Most people don’t really know what a priest does during the week besides writing a homily,” said Father Wallack, who was joined on the court by Father John Michael Patilla, parochial vicar of Saint Benedict Parish, in Holmdel and chaplain in St. John Vianney High School; Father Augusto Gamalo, parochial vicar of Saint Gregory the Great Parish in Hamilton Square; Father Thomas Vala and Father Gregg Abadilla, pastor and parochial vicar, respectively, of Saint Clement Parish in Matawan; and Father Dean Gaudio, pastor of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Avon-by-the-Sea.