With months of practices and scrimmages under our belts, class-absence green-sheets submitted, and a quick jump start for one of the Abbey vans, the basketball team rolled out on Thursday, January 26, headed for Mundelein seminary and the 21st Annual Fr. Pat O’Malley Invitational. Eight hours later, we rolled onto a snowy campus, a little slap happy and excited to put our skills to the test against the other seven seminaries competing in the basketball tournament.
Our first game was Friday night. The Sons of Thunder started off strong, defeating St. John Vianney 43-36. We were excited, but didn’t celebrate too long, as up next was the fearsome St. Joseph Seminary College, whose team boasted a former D1 basketball player. Conception fought hard, but ended up losing a close game, falling to St. Joseph 40-42. To advance out of pool play to tournament play, we had to win the next game. Our lads were up to the task, taking down Mundelein 43-33.
In the first round of tournament play, Conception faced St. Francis de Sales. Though we were tired from all the previous games, we drew strength remembering our recent defeats at the hands of the seminarians from Wisconsin in the Thunder Cup. Our boys played hard, but in the end, we lost the game 31-39. With that, we set our sights on St. Mary’s and a shot at third place. Taking the court Sunday morning, the Sons of Thunder secured the third-place trophy, triumphing over St. Mary’s 34-24.
Though basketball was indeed the reason for the trip, the most significant things happened off the court. Conception seminarians got a chance to spend some time in prayer at the nearby National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe. We toured Mundelein’s beautiful campus in the snow. We mingled with the other priests and seminarians who were there for the tournament at nightly socials. But, most importantly, we prayed with our brothers, attending liturgies in the gorgeous Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Though we were against one another on the court, it was beautiful and uplifting to hear the voices of all gathered resounding together in the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we headed home, I think everyone on the team would have agreed that the best thing about that weekend was the reminder that we are all united as the Body of Christ, that we are all seeking the same goal of one day, God willing, serving as priests.
— Nicholas Jones, Pre-Theology I
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph