LA seminarians defeat Priests in annual basketball match

LA seminarians defeat Priests in annual basketball match
Seminarians were the winners in the Annual Priests vs. Seminarians Basketball Game played at Chaminade Middle School in Chatssworth CA on 2/17/2023. Photos by John McCoy

Understandably, Tommy Green wants as much time as he needs to make his decisions in order to finish his seminary training and continue on course to become a priest by the summer of 2024.

Yet, some LA priests may be pleading with him to expedite the procedure after his performance last weekend in the annual basketball fundraising game that benefits the Archdiocese of LA’s Office of Vocations.

Green won the award for Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year after leading his team to a 49-43 victory over Team Priests on Friday, February 17, in front of a large crowd in the gym at Chaminade Middle School in Chatsworth. Green scored a game-high 27 points for his team.

Green outperformed his own MVP performance from the previous season, when he scored 16 points before fouling out, despite only having played on the last two Seminarian teams. The game, which was played at Santa Clara High in Oxnard, saw the seminarians defeat the Priests by a margin of six points.

“This is a different way to bring the community together and evangelize and create more awareness for vocations,” said Green, who is in his third year of theological studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo and expected to be ordained a deacon this May.

“Priests and seminarians can have fun, play basketball together, and I think it’s authentic masculinity as well as something that shows how some normal ordinary guys can have an extraordinary call from the Lord. It brings awareness to that.”

Man on the football teams at Citrus College and Glendora High School (class of 2013), where he clocked in at 285 pounds.

With a variety of layups, put-backs off rebounds, short jumpers in the paint, and accurate free throw shooting, the 27-year-old Green was too much for the Priests’ defence to handle.

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By the time the game was over, Green was enjoying the attention of his fans. He even gave an interview to a broadcast team that was live streaming the event for a party watch party at his home parish, St. Dorothy Catholic Church in Glendora.

Supporters from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Rowland Heights, where Green completed his internship last year, joined Green’s mother and retired monsignor Norm Priebe in attendance. Priebe also had Green stand with a handmade poster that read “Tommy MVP.”

According to Angelus News, Dr. Libby Reichert, a professor of moral theology at St. John’s Seminary who coaches and teaches the Seminarian team, said Green is “the heart of this team. He is an extrovert to the extreme. He just brings joy to everyone around him. I’m excited to see that man as a priest in the parish.”

The Seminarians have already defeated the Priests three times since the game’s debut in 2019 thanks to victories. Nonetheless, more than half of the 10 priests on this year’s roster have recently played for the Seminarian Team.

The event has received positive feedback from parishioners across the Archdiocese, according to Fr. Mike Perucho, director of vocations for the Archdiocese, and they now look forward to it. Fr. Jihoon Kim and intern seminarian Michael Croghan were supported by a sizable crowd that came from St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Santa Clarita, the speaker said.

Fr. Michael Masteller was a member of the Seminarian roster that won in 2019 but lost in 2020. He will be ordained in 2021 and is currently the pastor of St. Helen in South Gate. He remembers the game’s humble origins when they would play in front of a small audience at St. Finbar Catholic Church in Burbank.

“It was a very small pick-up game, a lot of great fraternity, and it’s fun to see it get a little more intense,” said Fr. Masteller, whose 14 points were second on Team Priests behind 16 from Fr. Andrew Chung of St. Pancratius of Lakewood.

“My reflection tonight is this isn’t really about us (playing), it’s getting the families, the children together. I think it was just a very Catholic night for everyone. Since we lost, that’s my consolation. And we’re going to win next year.