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A Man of Faith... and Hockey!


Father Jim Profile photoFr. Jim Donohue celebrates 30 years of dedication to the priesthood

“We lived in three places — the school, the church, and the skating-rink, but our real life was on the skating-rink,” Canadian author Roch Carrier writes in his short story, The Hockey Sweater.

Fr. Jim Donohue, a professor of theology at Mount St. Mary’s University, grew up in the Canadian town of Hamilton, Ontario, and knows what it’s like to spend countless hours in a skating-rink, while living his “real life” on and off the ice. Fr. Jim celebrates his 30th anniversary of priesthood this year.

“Fr. Jim plays many roles on campus, and his responsibilities and accomplishments are individually impressive,” said Joshua Hochschild, dean of the Mount’s College of Liberal Arts. “But what is most remarkable is that through them all he models a unity of life. There is a seamlessness and integrity in Fr. Donohue’s work as a scholar, teacher, department chair, colleague, coach, priest, and friend. Many in our community have learned about our mission from his personal example.”

Fr. Jim has been a member of the theology faculty, and coach of the Mount’s hockey team, since 1996. Hockey has always been a part of his life. He started skating on a rink in his backyard when he was two years old, and began to play organized hockey when he was four. He has not missed a year on the ice since! Fr. Jim currently plays in an over-50 league and an over-60 league (although he isn’t 60 yet) in Laurel, MD each week and coaches the Division III Mount hockey team, which competes in the Mason Dixon Collegiate Hockey League. He thinks of coaching as a way to “give something back,” but he believes he has always received far more than he has given.

It’s not uncommon for Fr. Jim Donohue and a Mount hockey player to talk about theology on the way to the rink or in the locker room before practice. It’s part of the Mount experience and Fr. Jim’s inspiration — turning sports into an arena for both physical and spiritual development. 

“People — students, teachers, administrators, and staff — come here knowing that faith is taken seriously and that is why it permeates the Mount in our curriculum, our liturgies and prayers, our club activities, our volunteer and service projects, and in our commitments to peace and justice,” said Fr. Jim.

This semester, Fr. Jim has eight hockey players in his classes. He spends about 10 hours with them during practice each week and then spends time with them in class and in individual office meetings.   One of the blessings that comes with being a priest who also coaches hockey is staying in touch with the players throughout the years and witnessing many of their weddings, and baptizing many of their children!

“Fr. Jim's a great player himself and I can say from playing on his line in a scrimmage, he's one of my favorite line mates,” said John Romano, a junior at the Mount and hockey team captain. “There’s never a dull moment with Fr. Jim — he is a lot of fun.”

Paige Hochschild, assistant professor in the theology department agrees: “He has a rich store of jokes ready at hand for students and colleagues. The jokes are an acquired taste, but the best part is how heartily he laughs at them himself!”

Fr. Jim was promoted to Professor in 2011 and received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2003, when he also became the Chair of the theology department. He teaches a wide range of courses, including the new Veritas Symposium, Foundations of Christian Theology, Christology, Sacraments, Gospels, Moral Theology, and pastoral courses such as Skills for Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Religious Education.

 “I really do thank God for calling me to priesthood as a Resurrectionist, to teaching at a university as wonderful as the Mount, and for infusing me with a passion and love for hockey,” Fr. Jim says, “What a great combination!”

MSMU Hokey Team Photo
Mount St. Mary's University Hockey Team

 
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