The Flying Fathers Hockey Club
The original Flying Fathers were a hockey team comprised of Catholic priests. Their fun-filled formula of great hockey, faith, and comedy drew crowds and earned them the moniker, “hockey’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters”.
To the delight of everyone, the club is being revived.
At the nearby Edifice Deschâtelets, the Greystone team met former Flying Fathers goaltender, Father Vaughan Quinn.
We were so taken with the story of the Flying Fathers that we decided to name our pub and café in their honour.
The Flying Fathers have kindly given us their permission to do so.
“Hockey's answer to the Harlem Globetrotters”
Originally formed in 1963, the team played across North America and Europe, and raised over four million dollars for charities like the Salvation Army, CNIB, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and many others.
Over their 46-year history, they amassed an incredible record of 900 games won, 6 games lost and 1 tie. This was partly due to former Toronto Maple Leafs player Rev. Les Costello, who was part of a Stanley Cup-winning team in 1948 before retiring to enter the priesthood.
North Bay Origins
The Flying Fathers started from more humble beginnings by Father Brian McKee in North Bay.
After a choir boy was injured in a hockey game and couldn’t afford medical treatment, Fr. McKee decided to put on a fundraiser to help with surgery costs. The team, comprised entirely of priests, won the game and even included a few slapstick antics that were a hit with the crowd. More worthy causes surfaced, and the hockey fundraising formula was a hit.
While some were concerned about the idea of spiritual leaders playing on the ice, the presiding bishop gave the effort his blessing and the team was free to continue.
More players joined the team from across Ontario, and their popularity skyrocketed to the point where Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios approached them about making a movie. Because of themes the studio wanted to add, the team turned down the offer.
Bringing Comedy to the Ice
The Flying Fathers were just as famous for their antics as for great hockey.
Fr. Les Costello dressed as a nun to play Sister Mary Shooter, the hockey-playing nun. A horse named Penance was brought onto the ice in goalie padding, and the first scorers from the opposing team got a pie in the face courtesy of Smitty the Clown.
The original team ended in 2009, after most of the original players had passed on or had hung up their skates due to injury or retirement. But in 2017, Father John Perdue was convinced to start the team up again by Frank Quinn, general manager of the original team, and others.
Fr. Perdue, vocations director for the Peterborough diocese and a former two-time junior hockey champion, was a fan of the original team and was excited to continue their work. He had already spent a few years playing hockey with other seminarians.
The new team features a real hockey-playing nun, Sister Mary Catherine Perdue, who is Father Perdue’s sister, as well as players from across Canada.
A new book about the Flying Fathers, Holy Hockey: The Story of Canada’s Flying Fathers, was released in 2018. It was written by Frank Cosentino and published by Eastern Ontario’s Burnstown Publishing House.Visit The Flying Fathers Hockey Club website