HYDE PARK — Canon Michael Stein now finds it easier to skate in his priest garb than full hockey pads.
"Just as you walk and run in this without thinking about it, I skate without thinking about it," said Stein, 29, who has served as a priest at Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn since 2012.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Stein said he grew up "walking and ice skating at the same time" and played pond hockey with his siblings. After stints at parishes in Italy and Africa, Stein said he's happy to be living in a city that enjoys hockey and serving in a parish that embraces recreation.
"Healthy recreation, athletic recreation helps us keep our balance and sanity," Stein said. "The image that's often given is the bow that's perpetually taut, snaps."
Although Stein has been skating his entire life, he said his superior in the parish, Canon Matthew Talarico, brought skating to the parish six years ago when he began frequenting the Midway Plaisance outdoor rink.
"Skating is now a parish outing a couple times a winter," said Stein, who added that the rink is just a few blocks north of the church. "We take all the faithful out and neighbors and friends."
"It's pretty awesome," said Lamicha Hargon, who works at the rink's warming and rental skate center. "Usually priests are just sitting there and they're giving sermons and stuff like that. He's actually interacting. Children get to come up and ask questions about their faith."
"I think they were calling him 'Father of the Hood,'" said Hargon, with a laugh.
For more on the priests who skate, watch the video.