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Feb 01, 2012 | Don Maines

Boxing a Hit with St. Mark's Priest

(via You're a priest in a boxing ring. Do you turn the other cheek or keep your hands up, lead with your body and throw a left hook?


"I started for Lent in 2007," said the Rev. Patrick J. Miller, 46, who is the rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 3816 Bellaire Blvd. "Instead of giving something up, I took something on.


"I gave up my money and my pride," he said, laughing.


About five years ago, Miller was working at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston when he saw "Boxing Lessons" painted on the side of a two-story building. Wearing his clerical collar, he entered the Savarese Fight Gym at 1612 Austin St.


Inside, he found exercise for his mind, body and spirit.


"Boxing is violent," he acknowledged. "You're hurting other people, trying to knock them out. It is the antithesis of what a priest is called to do. It is completely foreign to anything I've ever done in my life. But I've found the boxing gym to be a wisdom place."


Training about three times a week, he said, common-sense rules of the fight club often feel like epiphanies he can use in pastoral care.


"I remember a guy got his nose busted. He was told, 'You will feel better when that quits hurting,' " said Miller, who lives with his family in West University. "Grief is the price you pay for loving. You think you're going to grieve the rest of your life, but the pain will end.


"This is boxing. You do get hit," he added. "If you miss a combination, you come up on the fist side of things. In the real world, you get hit with stuff you don't expect."


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