I had a sense of dread -- two of them, come to think of it, if that's possible -- as I started reading this USA Today story about Division III football star Jordan Roberts and his journey into the Catholic priesthood.
On one level I was afraid that the story would simply be too cute. You know: Future priest runs to glory and all that, like a bad version of "Rudy."
The flip side of that would have been to label on the snark, either about the church itself or the quality of football being played at this level. No, honest. A writer could have pulled that off. This school is so minor league that even a man in a collar can run the ball off tackle.
Instead, this turned into one of the most moving God-and-gridiron pieces I have read in quite a long time. I especially like the fact that the story started in church, rather than on the playing field.
ST. PAUL -- Sundays are sacred at the St. John Vianney Seminary, a plain five-story red-brick building across a grassy quad from the main chapel at the University of St. Thomas. It is the only day Jordan Roberts and 133 brother seminarians studying to be Roman Catholic priests may wear priestly garb for Mass -- black cassocks with the white Roman collar.
Rising at 6 a.m., they begin their day with Holy Hour prayer and morning Mass. They end it with a rosary and lights out at 9:30 p.m. Last Sunday, seminary officials permitted Roberts a brief leave in late afternoon to join another fraternal group -- his St. Thomas football teammates -- to watch the NCAA Division III playoff selection show. Roberts is the Tommies' top rusher and scorer.
There are all kinds of interesting details, starting with the fact that Roberts converted to Catholicism as a young man.