Catholic Air Force Chaplain Nominated for Induction to Alma Mater’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Father Timothy J. Hirten to be inducted into Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio’s “Baron Hall of Fame” on August 31, 2014

Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, in basketball team photo with the Barons of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, 1975.

Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, in basketball team photo with the Barons of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, 1975.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, a United States Air Force chaplain with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), has been nominated for induction to the “Baron Hall of Fame” at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio (FUS), where he was a star basketball player in the 1970’s. Father Hirten, who currently serves on active duty atJoint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (JB MDL), will be inducted at the FUS’s 2014 Hall of Fame Awards on Sunday, August 31, in the Tony and Nina Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center in a 2:00 p.m. (EDST) awards ceremony.

During his time as a Baron from 1971-75, Hirten scored 1,149 career points, eighth on the school’s all-time list, and he grabbed 627 career rebounds, eleventh best in school history. In 1975, Hirten averaged 20.2 points per game and was honored as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) “All-American” honorable mention selection. Attending Steubenville on a basketball scholarship, Hirten had the distinction of being the only athlete in school history to play four different varsity sports, including basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf, and he was captain of both the basketball and tennis teams. Yet, Hirten was not only a great athlete: he succeeded in academics and served as a campus role model as well, majoring in political science, attending daily Mass, and earning selection as College Man of the Year in 1975.

After graduating from FUS, and before entering seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1987, Father Hirten played professional basketball in the U.S. and abroad. In September 1975, he was dropped by the New York Nets during the American Basketball Association (ABA) team’s last round of cuts. He was sent to the Scranton, Pa. Apollos of the Eastern Basketball Association (EBA), a professional basketball development league, and helped the team win an EBA title. In December, 1975, Hirten was picked up by the European pro league, playing for the “Standard Liege” team in Belgium. Hirten’s seven years in Europe saw him play for Seraing AS (Association Sportif), and Junventus Zottegem BC (Basket Club). He also spent time playing for the Washington Generals, an American exhibition basketball team that served as opponents for the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1978 Hirten also played in the Philippine pro league for one season with “Tanduay” averaging 32.7 points per game; he played on Tanduay’s famous home court atAreneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Manila, helping sellout every game in the 19,000-seat arena. In 1981, Hirten finished his last season in Europe, playing for Hapoel Tel Aviv, finishing in 2nd place in the Israeli Championship, losing only to Maccabi Tel Aviv, and finishing 16th in the Europe Cup (Korac Cup).

Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, with Kasey Agostinacchio and Michael Grasso at their wedding at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Bellmore, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2013.

Father Timothy J. Hirten, Ch, Maj, USAF, with Kasey Agostinacchio and Michael Grasso at their wedding at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Bellmore, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2013.

Since his 1993 priestly ordination for the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., Father Hirten has devoted his leadership skills, athletic ability, and team spirit to the priesthood, mainly serving Catholic Air Force families as achaplain. Since 2008, he has served on two deployments to Iraq, where he celebrated many Masses every Sunday while U.S. troops dodged bombs and bullets, fighting to keep order in the war-torn country. At JB MDL, Father Hirten now lives with his 88-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother while serving the base’s large Catholic community. JB MDL, with 3,933 facilities, is home to 44,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians, and their family members. Additionally, more than 60,000 military retirees live within a 50 mile radius.

“I still play hoops and run with my troops,” Father Hirten says, reporting that he recently scored 92 percent on his annual military fitness test. Father Hirten considers it a privilege to serve those who serve. “I love being a military chaplain,” he says. “I thank God on my knees every day for the opportunity to serve our nation.”

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, extended his congratulations to Father Hirten on his nomination to the Baron Hall of Fame.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“The AMS is indeed pleased that Franciscan University of Steubenville has recognized one of her chaplains. It is an honor that Franciscan University, known well in the U.S. for its clear doctrine and ties to the Catholic Church, would single out Father Hirtin, a popular, well-liked priest. Last spring I was privileged to visit JB-MDL and to see the good work that Father has accomplished. It is my prayer that he will continue to use his talents to promote the Gospel.”

Besides Father Hirten, the 2014 Baron Hall of Fame inductees include Charles Zerger, Class of 1963; Jim Garrigan, Class of 1974; Coach Vince Lamatrice, 1989-99; and Jeremy Treece, Class of 2005. A limited number of tickets for the August, 31 “Baron Hall of Fame” induction ceremony is open to the general public at prices ranging from $15 in advance to $20 at the door. To register, contact Maura Conant at 740-284-3745 or the Franciscan University alumni office at 740-284-5210.