Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fr. Ted Schmitt Receives Sporting Honor Posthumously

Father Ted Schmitt
The Fr. John P. Smyth Award was given to Fr. Ted Schmitt (posthumously) at the Sports Faith International Awards Ceremony at the Marriott Lincolnshire on May 24, 2015.  The Smyth Award is given annually to an outstanding Catholic athlete or coach who has chosen a  religious vocation. Fr. Ted Schmitt passed away suddenly in December of 2014.

Father Theodore (Ted) Schmitt, was ordained at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in 2002 at age 57. He grew up in Chicago, the son of a Chicago Police Officer. He was an altar boy at St. Genevieve Grammar School and he attended DePaul Academy. He played several sports as a boy. He was inspired to consider a religious vocation by his Irish Catholic mother and parish priests. He went to St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

After graduation, Schmitt taught and coached football at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, Illinois. After studying film at Northwestern, he was employed by Universal Studios in Chicago and a vocation to the priesthood seemed millions of miles away. He worked for Universal in Chicago, New York and at Universal City, California. He was a friend to many Hollywood celebrities. He became very successful, but found that he had become a “lousy human being.” A priest helped him sort things out and he enrolled at Mundelein Seminary in his 50s. 

As a priest one of his goals was to use athletics as an evangelical tool for Catholic grammar schools, high schools and non-Catholic ones. "Athletics, done right, can be a wonderful way to grow closer to Jesus Christ.”

Father Schmitt was football chaplain at St. Patrick High School in Chicago and Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Nazareth head coach Tim Racki reported Schmitt “said Masses or held prayer services before every game. We considered him part of the team." Schmitt saw Nazareth Academy recently win the Illinois 6A State Football Championship. Many said Father Schmitt played an important role in that accomplishment. He was also chaplain to the Streamwood Police and Fire Departments. He was an avid amateur boxer.

In his last assignment at St. John the Evangelist in Streamwood, he was credited with "re-energizing" the parish and was present in Washington DC as the school received the coveted Blue Ribbon Award. School officials state that with Fr. Schmitt's and other positive influences, the enrollment at the school has increased by 100.   

In December of 2014, the energetic and enthusiastic priest died unexpectedly.

For more information on the remarkable life of Father Ted Schmitt see Dolores Madlener's feature "Five Minutes with Father" in the Catholic New World.

The Fr. John P. Smyth Award is awarded by Sports Faith International that is Chaired by Sporting Chance Press Author and Chicago Bears Director, Patrick McCaskey