By Thandiwe Konguavi
Staff Writer

It’s not every day you get the chance to see the Archbishop drop the puck at centre ice. 

But the Oil Kings match-up against archrival Regina Pats on Friday, February 10, is no ordinary hockey game. Hundreds of Catholics will be heading to Edmonton’s iconic new Rogers Place that day for the first Faith and Fun Night with the Oil Kings   

As the event approaches, a familiar feeling of excitement to be Catholic is welling up in organizer Steven Defer, who serves as coordinator of the archdiocesan Office of Life and Family. He has vivid memories of attending Mass with Pope John Paul II as a teenager at World Youth Day, and more recently, joining hundreds of thousands of Catholics for Mass with Pope Francis at the last World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. 

“Right now, it’s kind of cool to be Catholic,” is the sentiment he heard in Philadelphia that best captures the feeling. 

    “Faith is a beautiful part of my life,” says Defer. “So this became an opportunity to celebrate our faith, and to celebrate what I think is Canada’s official religion — hockey.

 “To celebrate hockey, life, faith -- all of it... and we get the chance to see His Grace drop the puck at centre ice. So that’s not a regular occurrence.” 

As of January 19, more than 500 tickets had been sold, but Defer has his sights set higher. “I told them there’s 18,000 seats, let’s go for it!" 

His office secured a reduced rate of $18 for tickets, which normally range up to $29.

 “I like the idea of being able to bring a family to an event at a venue like this at a far more affordable rate,” says Defer. “Times are tough economically in this province. We need to celebrate, but we also have to be mindful of that, so I’m hoping that the event itself will draw in a large number of people.” 

A pre-game event in the North Mezzanine Club will give a select number of ticket holders a chance to mix and mingle with Archbishop Richard Smith, priests, seminarians, various religious organizations, and to enjoy “world class” musicians from Edmonton Catholic Schools. Other surprises may include members of the Oilers Group sharing about what it means to be a person of faith playing hockey. 

“When Catholics speak confidently about their faith, they invite others to do the same,” says Defer. “We don’t speak to silence others; we speak to invite others into the conversation.  

“To celebrate what it means to be a human being, includes the content of that human being’s faith. If you’re a hockey fan at all or a sports fan, you soon discover that sports is about people.”  

Defer is hoping that this year’s Faith and Fun event will have an impact beyond experience of that one night. “This may be an opportunity for us this year, but my long-term prayer is it becomes a more normal event in the city.”  

How to get your tickets

To purchase your tickets at the special price, visit, click “Log in” on upper right-hand side of the screen and create your account.  Select the February 10th game and enter the Promo Code  CAEDM, then follow the prompts to add tickets to your cart and make payment. (NOTE: the link does not work well with Internet Explorer.) If you have trouble online, you can place your order by phoning 780-414-4625 and following the prompt to go to  Edmonton Oil Kings tickets sales. Remember to mention the promo code CAEDM to get the discount price for the February 10th game. See you at the rink!