EDMOND â€” Father John Metzinger knew something wasn't quite right when the new associate pastor moved in at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
â€œI brought all my orange clothes to the rectory,â€ said Father Dan Letourneau. â€œI think Father realized I was an OSU person.â€
Right then it was on, a House (of the Lord) Divided.
The Edmond priests share the faith and the word and the bread, yet no common ground when it comes to Bedlam.
Father John: â€œI gave you a condolence card once. â€˜Sorry for your loss.' I don't remember which one that was after.â€
Father Dan: â€œI don't either, there's been so many. I haven't enjoyed an OSU victory as a priest. I've seen it happen, but not as a priest.â€
With Father John â€” last names are far too formal at St. John's â€” his Sooner spirit developed during 16 1/2 years in Norman, including 11 as the pastor at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, where none other than Bob and Mike Stoops were parishioners. When Father John can break free from church responsibilities to attend a game, he's on the list for tickets through Stoops' office.
â€œI got to know coach a little bit,â€ said Father John, who was born in Kansas and grew up in Joplin, Mo. â€œI think he's a great guy. I admire what he's done for the program. That's another reason to continue to be a fan today.â€
Father Dan was born in Ponca City and attended Oklahoma State, served as the drum major there from 1979-81 and played in the basketball pep band during the Paul Hansen era. Last January, he attended the Cotton Bowl with the grandparents of former Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson, who also went to St. John's. Last week, he was pushing popcorn and hot dogs at a Gallagher-Iba Arena concession stand, working on a night off to benefit the OSU alumni band.
Talk about Live Orange.
So it was in Stillwater in the late '70s, when Letourneau was a scholarship music student attending the local Catholic church, St. John The Evangelist University Parish, where the late Reverend Bob Schlitt pushed God and the Pokes.
â€œI was his music director,â€ said Father Dan, â€œplayed the guitar at masses in Stillwater. He played the fight song, sold barbeque in front of the church.
â€œHe would wear orange. I do that, kind of thinking of him.â€
Both priests bare their allegiances proudly, which has livened things up a bit at St. John's.
Parishioners at the church are fully into the Bedlam bragging being waged beyond the pulpit.
One recent tradition involving the church's school, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, has featured a Bedlam food drive, with students donating food items as fans for either OU or OSU. To the winning side: the losing side's priest forced to wear the other team's color while working the lunch line.
For the first time this year, OSU won. Yet Father John couldn't quite bring himself to go full orange, opting instead for a gray t-shirt sporting the helmets of both teams.
â€œI said I would wear orange,â€ said Father John, â€œI didn't say I wouldn't wear red also.â€
There's a bit of a competition, too, when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, with ornaments representing both sides strategically placed among the limbs.
Father Dan: â€œI have my Pistol Pete tree ornament that I bought at the student union. One year I slipped it on the Christmas tree when Father John wasn't looking. It went from down low to up high.â€
Father John: â€œHe kept putting it higher on the tree. He'll probably want Pete on top if they win.â€
Almost on cue each fall Sunday, at least at the masses led by the Bedlam priests â€” Father Long Phan, another associate priest at the parish, carries no allegiances â€” there are references to the previous day's games leading into each priests' sermons, whether at 7:30, 9 and 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.