Naturally, Tommy Green wants all the discernment time necessary to complete his seminary formation and stay on track to become a priest by the summer of 2024. 

But after his performance last weekend in the annual basketball fundraising game that supports the Archdiocese of LA’s Office of Vocations, a certain group of LA priests might be petitioning for him to speed up the process. 

For the second year in a row, Green was named the event’s Most Valuable Player, powering his way to a game-high 27 points as his team held off a final push from Team Priests, 49-43, on Friday, Feb. 17, before hundreds of supporters at the Chaminade Middle School gym in Chatsworth.

Green, who has only played on the last two Seminarian teams, exceeded his own MVP performance from last year when he scored 16 points before fouling out. The Team Seminarians outlasted Team Priests by six points during that game, which was played at Santa Clara High in Oxnard.  

Father Matt Wheeler of Visitation Church in LA played the National Anthem on his electric guitar, then suited up for the Feb. 17, 2023 game. (John McCoy)

“This is a different way to bring the community together and evangelize and create more awareness for vocations,” said Green, who is in his third year of theological studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo and expected to be ordained a deacon this May.

“Priests and seminarians can have fun, play basketball together, and I think it’s authentic masculinity as well as something that shows how some normal ordinary guys can have an extraordinary call from the Lord. It brings awareness to that.”

At 6-foot-2, Green admits only that “I’m a pretty big guy” to be running up and down a basketball court. Not too long ago, he was all-league offensive lineman on the football teams at Glendora High School (Class of 2013) and Citrus College, where he weighed in at 285 pounds.

The 27-year-old Green was too much for the Team Priests’ defense to handle on a variety of layups, rebound put-backs, short shots in the paint, and accurate free-throw shooting.


Father Filiberto Cortez drives to the basket during the Archdiocese of LA's annual Vocations basketball game at Chaminade Middle School in Chatsworth Feb. 17, 2023. (John McCoy)

By the end of the game, Green was basking in the attention from his supporters, including doing an interview with a broadcast crew who livestreamed the event for a watch party at his home parish of St. Dorothy Church in Glendora. 

Libby Reichert, a professor of moral theology at St. John’s Seminary who coaches and teaches the Team Seminarians, said Green is “the heart of this team. He is an extrovert to the extreme. He just brings joy to everyone around him. I’m excited to see that man as a priest in the parish.”

Father Michael Masteller goes up against Seminarians’ Tommy Green in the annual basketball game, Feb. 17, 2023. (John McCoy)

Since the inaugural game in 2019, Team Seminarians has now won three times against the Team Priests. But on this year’s roster of 10 priests, more than half have played for the Team Seminarians in recent years.

Father Mike Perucho, associate director of vocations for the archdiocese, said the event has drawn positive feedback from parishioners throughout the archdiocese who now look forward to it. He pointed to a large group who attended from St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Santa Clarita to cheer on Father Jihoon Kim as well as intern seminarian Michael Croghan.

Father Michael Masteller, ordained in 2021 and serving as a pastor at St. Helen Church in South Gate, was on the Team Seminarians’ roster that won in 2019 and lost in 2020. He recalled the modest beginnings of the Seminarians vs. Priests game idea, when they would play in front of a few spectators at St. Finbar Church in Burbank. 

priests basketball

LA priests and seminarians pose together after the Vocations basketball game Feb. 17, 2023. (John McCoy)

“It was a very small pick-up game, a lot of great fraternity, and it’s fun to see it get a little more intense,” said Father Masteller, whose 14 points were second on the Team Priests behind 16 from Father Andrew Chung of St. Pancratius Church of Lakewood.

“My reflection tonight is this isn’t really about us [playing], it’s getting the families, the children together. I think it was just a very Catholic night for everyone. Since we lost, that’s my consolation. And, we’re going to win next year.”