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Hanging with Father Pete

Dec 9, 2012, 9:33 PM EST

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Father Pete McCormick does a little bit of everything at Notre Dame. He serves as the Rector of Keough Hall, is the Associate Vocations Director on campus, and is in charge of organizing freshmen retreats. Even more recently he’s taken on the role of Chaplain for the men’s basketball team, a job he’s willingly embraced. As Chaplain, Father Pete (or just FP as he’s known around campus) provides a unique perspective on the way the team handles its business on a day-to-day basis.

“One of my roles is presence, being around the team,” explains Father Pete. “Before every single game we celebrate Mass. One of the other pieces of the puzzle is that the players all get a medal of a particular Saint that we bring up for that day. At the end of Mass, I introduce the Saint and then talk about how this person might apply in the players’ own lives. It’s a unique opportunity. There are very, very few men’s basketball teams that are doing Mass before each and every game.”

Father Pete grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. and has always been a huge basketball fan. He remembers the days of the Michigan Fab Five in the early 90’s and points to them as players he idolized. He says basketball has always been a comforting part of his life, playing it in high school and even using it to help him relax and find peace when discerning his vocation to the priesthood. What amazes Father Pete the most is seeing the way players mature and develop as leaders during their time at Notre Dame.

“On the sidelines you see the very human dimension of what it takes to build a basketball team and to execute at the level of play they are at,” remarks Father Pete. “What’s incredible to watch is how the coaching staff motivates the players and how the players respond. These guys are always willing to take the challenge. An overarching thing I love to watch is their improvement, whether offensive efficiency or their defensive approach to the game.”

And while Father Pete isn’t dressed in uniform for the games, you’ll see him rebounding for the guys warming up prior to tip-off. He’ll yell words of encouragement from the sideline. And he has no shame raising his hands in celebration after a monumental three point bucket against an elite BIG EAST foe (see video below). No, he’s not just a part of the bench – Father Pete is a part of the team.

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