08 December 2011

Holy Warrior

Today the Illinois Times' Bruce Rushton profiles the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, calling him the Holy Warrior, with the lede, "On the ice and in the pulpit, Bishop Thomas Paprocki takes hard shots."

All in all, the article isn't bad.  Here's a snippet (and a good picture):
The office of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki is a veritable shrine to hockey.

On a table sits a miniature Stanley Cup, next to a photo of him posing on the ice with members of his beloved Chicago Blackhawks. In the office foyer hangs a photograph of Paprocki posing with the cup itself, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Those were in happier times,” quips the bishop, who castigated the governor a year ago, when Quinn, a Catholic, said that his faith prompted him to sign a bill allowing civil unions.

They call him the Holy Goalie, the bishop who saves goals and saves souls. He is, according to Jeff Rocco, director of the Sacred Heart-Griffin hockey squad, the real deal in the net – you’d never know that he didn’t take up ice hockey until the late 1990s, when he was closing in on 50.

What possesses a man in mid-life to become a puck target?

“Why do you want to play goalie – it’s like, why do you want to be a priest?” answers Paprocki, who also runs marathons. “Part of it, I guess, is being at the center of the action. Being a goalie is like being a bishop: You’re at the center of the action.”

Really, Paprocki says, it isn’t much different than playing goal in floor hockey, which he did back in the eighth grade while growing up on Chicago’s south side. There were no ice rinks, and so his six brothers and their friends played in a basement beneath his father’s pharmacy.

“The basic principle is, you play the angles,” he says. “You just want to position yourself in a way so the puck hits you.”

Plenty of pucks have hit Paprocki since his arrival in Springfield 18 months ago. He doesn’t shy from strong statements, which has earned him critics who call him divisive, arrogant, inflammatory – and worse [more].

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