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Evangelization on Ice

Seminarians lace up their skates to inspire vocations in the community.

by Maggie Doyle

Deacon Mark Livingston, a fourth-year graduate seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit, had a new vision for Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s hockey team, the Lions. In the past four seasons since its inception, the Lions played other seminaries, mainly from Canada. While this has been an opportunity for seminarians to connect with their peers at other institutions, Deacon Mark sees a greater need in the community that could be fulfilled through these games. He wants to do hockey evangelization.

by Maggie Doyle

A New Vision

This season, the Lions brought his vision to life, inviting local parishes instead of seminaries to form teams and face off against the Lions. The team received four enthusiastic responses, and an outpouring of support and enthusiasm from the community.

“The goal is to get the faith community together and appeal not only to the mainstream people, but also the people on the margins. We invite them to watch hockey, have fun together, and give the glory to the Lord,” said Deacon Mark.

Thanks to a generous donor who rented out Detroit’s Jack Adams Arena, the Lions were able to practice often. This was especially important to the team’s success this year, as Deacon Mark implemented a new rule to boost participation—if you wanted to learn and were committed to practicing, you would play.

“Some guys started learning in January, but it was so much fun, and they worked so hard,” shared Deacon Mark.

2018 Season

The Lions began their season on March 24, when the team traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face off against the Dragons, a local team of Catholic men, followed by another game in Saline, Michigan.

However, “Catholic Night at the Rink” with Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Parish in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the home parish of Sacred Heart alumnus Fr. Paul Graneyan, stands out as the most notable game.

Fr. Graney formed a team of men from his parish, and generous families rented and donated the ice for the evening’s festivities. The parish was able to raise $1,500 with one hour of open skating, followed by the hockey game. Children leaned over the ice for a high five from the seminarians, and families gathered in community to cheer on the team.

“I never would have imagined that many people would come,” said Deacon Mark.

The season concluded the following weekend with a game against the Companions of the Cross religious community. After the game, three men publicly shared their testimonies to Christ’s love, and Msgr. Daniel Trapp, graduate spiritual director and associate professor at Sacred Heart, closed the evening with a prayer.

Building Community through Hockey

“We found this to be a beautiful way to keep engaging a group of people that might not come to a church event normally,” Deacon Mark said.

With such success in their 2018 season, the future of the Lions’ Hockey evangelization is off to a great start. Deacon Mark recognizes this as a fun opportunity to raise awareness about vocations and proclaim the good news of Jesus to those around us.

“I think it will grow moving forward,” said Deacon Mark. “We have a lot of hockey playing priests out in the Archdiocese of Detroit, so we are going to try to get a priest team going and hope to drum up interest in our own parishes in the future.”

Maggie Doyle

Maggie is a freelance writer and editor based in Omaha, Nebraska, passionate about sharing stories that captivate.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.