The “Rock” on the St. John’s University Bench

The “Rock” on the bench during an exciting, but also stormy, season for the St. John’s University men’s basketball team has been Fr. Richie  Rock, CM of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission.

An article in the Brooklyn Tablet, “St. John’s Priest Is a ‘Rock’ for Athletes” profiles Fr. Richie Rock, CM. After pointing out that he sits on the bench with some very high profile Hall of Fame coaches, the article describes Fr. Richie sitting at the other end of the bench as a “guiding influence, watching and praying enthusiastically for the student-athletes to do their best.”

Father Richard Rock, C.M., leads the St. John’s men’s basketball team in prayer before a game. (Photo courtesy Father Richard Rock)

The insightful article by Jim Mancari captures his contribution well.

The team’s spiritual “rock” is Father Richard Rock, C.M., is the campus minister for athletics at St. John’s. As a Vincentian, he weaves the college’s mission of serving the poor into his daily interactions with the Red Storm student-athletes.

Some further highlights from the article…

His day-to-day responsibilities are centered on establishing relationships with the student-athletes to show them what St. John’s University is all about as a Catholic, Vincentian, faith-based university…

He tries to spend as much time as possible with all the Red Storm teams. During basketball season, he travels with the men’s team. Not only does he get to sit on the bench, but he also addresses the team in prayer during either their pregame meal for home games or on the team bus for away games…

In his pregame talks, his message to the players is usually a simple one: Always be thankful for your coaches, teammates, supporters of the university and the opportunity to play high-level Division I college basketball on the national stage…

“I remind them that talent is a God-given gift,” Father Rock said. “I say that to all the athletes and coaches. I also say that we are at our best when we’re thankful for what God gave us.”…

Just like he did in Philadelphia, Father Rock has made it his mission to work with the poor. He involves the student-athletes in community service projects, such as visiting the soup kitchen at St. John’s Bread & Life, Bedford-Stuyvesant…

“It’s not about charity; it’s about doing justice,” he said. “I tell them that every person – even the poorest person they meet – has a name, has a face and has a history. I always remind them to never forget about the homeless people in New York.”

All of us associated in any way with the Mission of the Eastern Province draw comfort that this “rock” who sits on the bench is always about the mission.

For more about Father Richie visit the full article in the Brooklyn Tablet “St. John’s Priest Is a ‘Rock’ for Athletes”

2 Replies to “The “Rock” on the St. John’s University Bench”

  1. Fr. Rock is an exemplary example for all priests! Not that he just works to improve the lives of athletes, but the emphasis Fr. Rock places on working with the poorest of the poor is what makes his teaching meaningful in the eyes of God and St. Vincent de Paul!

  2. Fr. Rock certainly lives what he preaches. He is in touch with the heart of the poor and recognizes their dignity as children of God and he treats them as such. The students are lucky to have him. I hope that his example willl guide them in life.

Comments are closed.