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Fight A Priest, Trust A Fighter

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Fight a Priest, Trust a Fighter

by Father Elias Leyds

One day Father Dave (the Anglican priest with whose family I am staying for a year) asked me if I felt like joining him at a rugby match. Dave is the chaplain of the local Rugby League club, the 'Newtown Jets', and naturally he had to be there. It was the opening match of the season.

Before the match we had to wish them success in the dressing-room. Sometimes Father Dave prays with them. Here, that's normal. And of course, after the victory we had to go back to the dressing-room to congratulate them.

The Polynesians are well represented in the team. They're from all those islands I had never heard about before: Tonga, Samoa, Cook, etc.

Because of the long distance paddling between all those islands they had grown quite robust1. As often happens, the friendly colossuses are openly religious, and the players who are not have no complexes about it. I'm probably not the only Dutchman or foreigner for whom the direct and simple contact with Australians is like breathing fresh air.

Moreover, the Aussies are certainly not superficial, as we arrogant Europeans sometimes have it. On the way back home I ask father Dave if all sport clubs have a chaplain. He answers: No. But one day they just asked me. I ask him why. He smiles and tells me, as if giving away a little secret: "It's the boxing! One of the boys once told me: I don't trust priests and clergymen, but someone who fights, I can trust. That's the kind of guy who dares to show who he is."

Why do I write this here? Is this the beginning of a new apostolic approach? A new method to win souls? No. I just quote that boy, because I think what he said makes sense.

If they ever decide in Rome to make me a bishop, this is going to be a policy: every seminarian must have done some fighting sport. If not, he must catch up. There's enough variety for everyone. For the fast ones, there is Jujitsu, for the obese Sumo wrestling, and for the more aggressive ones, of course, Muay Thai. It sure would do them a lot of good!

Anyway, I fear the end of this article may also be the end of my ecclesiastical career...

(translated from the Dutch original, as published in The Katholiek Nieuwsblad, 2008)

1. Note from the translator: Elias assures me that this is a hilarious play on words in Dutch.

Father Elias Leyds

Father Elias is Sydney's favourite Dutch monk.

A member of the Community of St John (based in France), Elias has been seconded to Dulwich Hill in order to train as a fighter and explore the possible role of boxing in the ministry of the community.

Catch up with Elias on www.fighting-fathers.com

Father Elias
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