Monday, October 5, 2009

Priestly Poker

A poker-playing priest, I like.  Poker is a lot of fun - in moderation of course.  So, here you go.
He didn't think to ask if he could outplay 9,990 people in a 10,000-person online Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament, or if being effective as a priest would include making an audition video for YouTube or praying for an "ace-ace," "queen-queen" or "ace-king" combination.
But that's just the unexpected turn the life of South Carolina's youngest priest took recently when Trapp earned a spot on a new game show, "PokerStars.Net Million Dollar Challenge," which is scheduled to begin airing next month on the Fox TV network.
He's being flown to Los Angeles this weekend for tapings of the first two episodes. He doesn't know on which one he will appear. John and Lisette Velazquez, a couple whom he met at his first assigned parish after seminary, also will attend as potential audience helpers.
"I'm pretty good, but not like a pro," Trapp said, adding that he began playing as a youngster with family and friends for fun. "It's a game show that just happens to feature poker."
He played well to win the qualifying tournament, he said, but "definitely some luck" was involved. "And I avoided playing stupid."
It's just one of the many hobbies he relies upon to re-energize himself after long days at the office, taking gut-wrenching confessions or visiting the sick. He also plays soccer, basketball and paintball. He just finished reading the complete "Sherlock Holmes" series and enjoyed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
But the game show serves a dual purpose: It's a charity and outreach. And no - it's not gambling.
In Catholicism, the "sinfulness" of playing games of chance is a "matter of moderation," Trapp said.
It's one thing to play for fun or a $10 bingo hand. It's quite another for a man to gamble away an entire check his family needs to make ends meet.
Besides, whatever money Trapp wins will be donated to St. Michael Catholic Church in Garden City Beach, where the 28-year-old serves as assistant pastor. The church needs a larger building. It currently holds 900 people, which has forced it to hold six services every weekend. Catholicism is the fastest-growing branch of religion in Horry County, with more than 13,000 members coming to the area the past two decades, according to the Association of Religious Data Archives. The 2010 data is expected to show even more growth.
"I don't need money myself," he said. "The church pays for all my basic needs."  Continue reading.

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