From God to Golf: UB Priest Offers Golfers’ Mass

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: July 6, 1999

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's 6:45 on a glorious Sunday morning and golfers are exchanging greetings -- but not on the links. They're in the University at Buffalo's Newman Center chapel, where Rev. Msgr. J. Patrick Keleher, director of the Catholic Campus Ministry at the university, offers a Golfers' Mass every Sunday during the summer.

When he found that his regular Sunday crowd was dwindling in the summer due to a tee-time conflict, Msgr. Keleher came up with the idea of an early Golfers' Mass. The Golfers' Mass is another example of the priest responding to the needs of specific groups, such as holding late Sunday-night Masses for students.

The early-Sunday Mass has become very popular, and not just with golfers. Many come just to enjoy the early-morning bliss. "Welcome golfers, gardeners, insomniacs and others who aren't sure where they are," the irrepressible Msgr. Keleher quipped as he bounded into the chapel one recent Sunday.

Golfers often post notices about the service in locker rooms. And Msgr. Keleher even has advertised in The Buffalo News' sports pages. "They wanted me to put a notice in the religion page, but I said no, because golfers don't read the religion page," he said. "I wanted it in the sports pages."

Msgr. Keleher's admirers say that offering an early-morning service is typical of what this clergyman will do for those he meets. In fact, for him, it's just par for the course.