SLU basketball game to celebrate Catholic education

When Fathers Paul Hoesing and James Mason first met, the then-seminarians were playing pickup basketball at Pontifical North American College in Rome.

"It was a Tuesday," Father Hoesing said. "We always played Tuesday afternoon basketball."

The meeting must have been memorable. President-rector Father Mason described it in introducing Father Hoesing last fall to faculty and staff as Kenrick-Glennon Seminary's dean of seminarians.

"He could set a pretty stiff pick!" Father Mason said that day.

"That's true," Father Hoesing said, laughing at the memory. "I would usually go after the defender at the top of the key. He was pretty scrappy, a point-guard type. I was more down low."

So, Father Hoesing knows his way around a basketball court, and he'll be in familiar territory Saturday, Feb. 20 at Chaifetz Arena.

Father Hoesing will be among three shooters in the "Shot for Cash" at halftime of the St. Louis University men's tilt against Fordham — game time, 7 p.m. — on "Celebrating Catholic Education Night." Sister Laura Bradford, SDSH, and Dominican Brother Chris Johnson are the other shooters, and students from numerous archdiocesan parishes and schools will be in the stands to watch. Students are encourage to wear SLU colors of blue and white.

A who's who in St. Louis Catholic education will join the celebration: Archbishop Robert J. Carlson; SLU President Fred P. Pestello; archdiocesan schools superintendent Kurt Nelson; and Jesuit Father Christopher Collins, SLU's assistant to the president for mission and identity. Sister Marysia Weber, RSM, director of the archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life, also will be on hand.

Free tickets have been offered to priests, brothers and sisters, which seems like the start of a joke — "A priest, a brother and a sister entered a room ... " — fitting for the halftime "competition."

Father Hoesing might just clang the half-court shot off the rim.

"I think it's always best to let the sister look the best in that situation," he quipped. "If I make the shot, it looks like I'm beating the sister."

Sister Laura laughed when told of this approach.

"Oh, isn't he nice?" she said, laughing and following with an "Oh, brother."

"Just tell him to shoot the ball!" she joked.

Sister Laura comes from a competitive sporting background. She played collegiate softball at Stony Brook University in New York as well as high school basketball, though she hasn't played hoops since her high school days in Big Bear, Calif., in the late-'90s and early-2000s.

"It's been a while since I shot a basketball, so I have to get back into shape," she said.

To that end, Sister Laura and fellow Californian Sister Guadalupe Rodriguez have been spending time on the basketball court at Frank Munsch Community Centre in Overland, where members of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart reside.

"Just shooting around," said Sister Laura, who also occasionally shoots at a hoop and plays volleyball on a parking lot at Cardinal Rigali Center with retreatants through Paul VI Institute.

Brother Chris also has been practicing a bit for the 43-foot, half-court shot, in the gym at SLU's Simon Recreation Center.

"So far, I've made one," he said, hopefully, adding that he isn't a basketball player "at all" and "barely" has played pick-up games. "It should be interesting."

Brother Chris, Sister Laura and Father Hoesing agreed they'll have fun shooting before the crowd at Chaifetz, and it'll be old hat for Sister Laura and Father Hoesing. Each has thrown out a first pitch at a St. Louis Cardinals game.

For Sister Laura and Brother Chris, though, the night will pale in comparison with big days coming up in their lives. Brother Chris is in formation on the road to ordination, and Sister Laura will make final vows in April.

"Very exciting," Sister Laura said. 

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