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But he didn't hang up his skates. In 1963 he founded the Flying Fathers, a team of hockey-playing priests that used zany carnival antics to raise millions of dollars for charity.
Costello was a tireless worker and champion of the poor. When he died, his funeral was held in a hockey arena to make room for the 2000 people who attended. It was a fitting tribute to a man who saw the church as a community that went beyond the walls of a parish.
Les Costello was a pro hockey player at a time when Conn Smythe was the caesar of Carlton Street, a maverick priest during a time of a growing crisis in vocations and identity in the Canadian Catholic church. Through it all, his passion for justice, his faith, and his ribald sense of humour made him a colourful hero for our times.