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Credit: HometownLife

In November, Father Dimitrie Vincent was injured and paralyzed after a horrible accident during a hockey game. The priest lost his balance while playing in an over-60 men’s recreational hockey league game at the Redford Ice Arena.

“We were coming to the close of the game and we were down by a couple goals,” Father Dimitrie Vincent told WJBK. “I went to play the puck and I got tangled up with the opposition.”

When he fell, he quickly realized he was unable to get back up.

“It was very hard because it was the worst pain I ever experienced in my life,” recalls Vincent. “And it was nothing but a ball of pain. I was frozen. I couldn’t move and the pain was excruciating.”

He suffered a compressed spinal cord and during the weeks and months after the accident, he had to deal with surgery, infection, getting shuttled between hospitals and going through hours of difficult physical therapy.

Vincent is a 66-year-old parish priest at St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Farmington Hills. Despite the emotional and physical pain he was going through, he had a great sense of gratitude.

“I came in completely paralyzed and there were people to bathe me, feed me, clothe me,” he explained. “It really touched my heart. I was living the Gospel. I didn’t need to read the Gospel; those weeks I lived it.”

Father Vincent says he has found motivation to keep moving forward through his faith and his priesthood calling. His love for the game began in childhood and unfortunately his last game would be the day he was injured. While disappointed he has his priorities in order.

“My purpose isn’t to be a hockey player, my joy is to serve God and with love, serve my neighbor and certainly be there to serve my family. So if that can happen, I am a pretty happy guy.”

Though it was his last game, he still returned to the rink for a charity event that raised money for his medical bills.

Then, Father D. had a huge surprise for the spectators, coaches and players at the rink. He had his own “miracle on ice” and stood up from his wheelchair and walked up to the bench to personally show his appreciation.

“If my fellow mates are going to be there, I should be there to say thank you,” said the priest. “Unbeknownst to even the people who drove me down there, I got up and shook the hand and thank them.”

He added, “It was pretty powerful because I surprised a number of people. It was great choice to show that sort of appreciation.”

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