The more curling, the merrier: 40th Friar's Briar promises 'fine fellowship and good curling' in Regina

Members of the clergy, the faithful and other folks will be casting stones on sheets of ice in Regina during the 40th annual Friar's Briar, which coincides with the Tim Hortons Brier, giving faithful curling fans a chance to watch some of the world-class curling going on in the city.

Bonspiel gets underway on March 5

The Friar's Briar was held in Victoria in 2017. The 2018 bonspiel in Regina is the 40th Friar's. (Submitted by Herb Sharpe)

Members of the clergy, the faithful and other folks will be casting stones on sheets of ice in Regina next week during the 40th annual Friar's Briar Bonspiel.

But don't expect it to be a hushed, solemn affair.

"It's not that quiet a group. Clergy talk all the time. So we compete, you know, not only on the ice but also in the lounge," said Jerry Borkowski, the chairperson of the local Friar's Briar planning committee. 

The bonspiel, which states its mission as promoting "fine fellowship and good curling on a national basis among clergy persons and their associates," takes place March 5-9.

That has it coinciding with the Tim Hortons Brier in Regina, so faithful curling fans will be able to watch some of the world-class curling going on — not to disparage their own abilities.

(The "briar" spelling for the bonspiel was, in fact, adopted to avoid conflict with the better-known brier.)

The teams will have Tuesday morning off to take in some of the competition.

Borkowski says that this year there will be 24 teams, or about 196 curlers, competing for glory.

The competition is friendly, but Jerry Borkowski says things can get pretty fierce at the Friar's Briar. (Submitted by Herb Sharpe)

The tournament has its roots with clergy members in Ontario, says Borkowski. In 1977, the curlers opted to expand their local curling scene to bring more people into the fold and include members of the faith from across the country. The next year, the Friar's Briar began.

The event runs Monday to Friday, which is a very intentional schedule, according to Borkowski.

"We are still clergy people and [there are] other people who are pianists, and the organists and the music people. We all have to go back to work on Sunday."

Borkowski, who is Lutheran, feels the coming together of the various denominations is important. He says the interests they share, even though beliefs may vary, provide common ground.

"Why would we not gather in something that we also enjoy doing?" said Borkowski.

"When you sit down around the table over a glass of wine or a glass of beer, whatever, you're all the same. We all journey in the same ways — have the same struggles and have the same joys."

Curling with his team The Holy Hosts, this will be the sixth brier for Borkowski, and he hopes the event will evolve.

He feels that eventually their bonspiel should be open to different faiths as well, but realizes curling might not have the same global reach as other sports.

With files from Saskatchewan Weekend