McCaskey’s book offers examples of faith in sports

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, January 1, 2012

It’s no accident that Patrick McCaskey titled his book “Sports and Faith.” Those are the two poles around which his life revolves.

“Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout” offers glimpses of the people the Chicago Bears senior director has known throughout his life, from his grandfather, George S. Halas, to Father Joe Freedy, ordained in 2008 after playing Division I football for the University of Buffalo.

The sketches in the book include personal reflections on growing up in the Chicago suburbs, first-hand looks at wellknown figures in the sports world and excerpts of poems McCaskey has written that touch on the relationship between faith and sports.

They are drawn, McCaskey said, from about 30 years’ worth of booklets that he wrote to distribute to family and friends as gifts.

The impetus for the book goes back even longer than that, Mc- Caskey said, to when he was a student at Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles. His English teacher told him he had a talent for writing.

“At the time, I responded, ‘Father, I have to get to practice,’” Mc- Caskey recalled.

Within a few years, a serious eye problem that eventually led to a corneal transplant curtailed his baseball career. After college, he went to work for the Chicago Bears, the family business.

But the suggestion that he had a Godgiven gift with a pen never left him. Its result came about now because of the relationship he developed with Larry Norris of Sporting Chance Press, who helped put his sketches and notes into book form.

“It’s about people who are successful in sports who are leading exemplary lives,” McCaskey explained.

He acknowledged that there may be strong links between faith and other fields of endeavor as well, but sports is what he knows.

“I’ve been in sports my whole life,” he said. “I started going to Bears games when I was five and to training camp when I was 7.”

So it’s fitting that his favorite sections in the book are about Papa Bear George Halas, who had the reputation of being tough as nails.

Maybe he was, McCaskey said, but when the Bears main offices were at 33 W. Jackson, his grandfather would take time on Saturday afternoons to go to confession at Old St. Mary’s Church and then return to the office to say his penance.

“My grandfather was a man of faith and a man of prayer,” Mc- Caskey said, echoing the words of Precious Blood Father Charles Banet at Halas’ funeral.

On its spine, “Sports and Faith” notes that it is “Book One,” and McCaskey said he hopes to write more in the future, to encourage people to live in faith the way he was taught.

“I had a wonderful childhood and I’m having a wonderful adulthood,” he said. “It’s important to go to church and Bible study and have daily devotions. On a personal level, that helps me appreciate the Bears and cope with the wins and losses.”