Monday 19 August 2019

Les Costello Canada’s Flying Father - Charlie Angus

Les Costello: Canada’s Flying Father
Charlie Angus
ISBN 9782895076315
eISBN 9782896468973

The three things I remember most having an influence upon my youth were Hockey and the Catholic church and Catholic schools. I recall the excitement when the Flying fathers were coming to town. And for the most part I really loved this book. To be honest I think the author extrapolated far from what I consider consistent with the picture we have of this man, this priest in the rest of the book. Especially around Female priests and married priests. But those few paragraphs I have an issue with do not detract from the rest of the book much.

This is an incredible story. Les Costello, Fr. Lester John Thomas Costello was cut from a different cloth. He won 2 Memorial Cups with the St. Michael’s Majors, and won the Stanley Cup with the Toronto maple Leafs. But he gave it up one fall, instead of returning to training camp for the Leafs, he dropped his brother off on his way to his first camp with the Chicago Black Hawks and went and applied at the seminary instead. He was an avid athlete, a man of the people, and a man who served others. He was also a poet and in some ways a visionary. For Fr. Costello after forming the Flying fathers was traveling, visiting schools and hospitals the way many athlete’s do today.

From the many stories told by friends, family members, teammates, and even the opposition in this story we see a man from a different age. He worked in the rural north, which is where he grew up. He loved hockey, he loved his parishioner’s, and he loved God. His spiritual life was much deeper than many would have glimpsed on the surface. If there was a need he strived to fulfill it. He would even sell his own possessions to meet the needs of others. And this book captures that life of fun and of service.

Costello was a legend on the ice. But his more important legacy was his life of service once he hung up his skates professionally. The Flying fathers were a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and a mission outreach. And Less was the driving force behind the fathers for many, many years. The church could use more priests like Costello today, and the world could definitely use more men with his devotion to service. And this story will at times make you laugh, maybe make you cringe a little, and likely inspire you as well. This is a great read for those who remember the Flying fathers in the hay day, or for anyone interested in reading about this incredible man, his life, and his ministry.

Note: In Canadian hockey history Alan Eagleson is often considered a terrible villain. But if half the stories about Conn Smythe are true he might be one of the biggest cads in all of hockey history.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Charlie Angus:
Cage Call
Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada's Lost Promise and One Girl's Dream
Les Costello: Canada's Flying Father
Mirrors of Stone
Unlikely Radicals: The Story of the Adams Mine Dump War
We Lived a Life and Then Some: The Life, Death, and Life of a Mining Town

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