Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
December 10, 2001
Lowe learned his lesson
Oilers' GM learned integrity when caught pocketing a pack of gum
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Parents have a major role in instilling values such as faith, integrity, generosity and other Christian values to their children, Edmonton Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe told 200 men at the Chateau Louis Dec. 1.
"Integrity may be natural to some people, but a great deal of the development of anyone's character is shaped by little moments."
He vividly recalled how his mother dragged him down to a grocery store, where he had innocently pocketed a pack of gum. He was six years old.
"I just saw (the gum) there. I was standing in the cashier's line like every young kid, and this gum looked a little bit intriguing," said Lowe.
"I asked my mom if I could have it. She said 'No.'"
"She turned away, I shoved it in my pocket and away we went. Later on that day my mom saw me chewing gum. And she knew where the gum came from."
Lowe's mom did not waste time. She marched the boy to the store and made him hand the gum back.
This experience, which he shared at the first breakfast sponsored by Men of Integrity, affected Lowe for the rest of his life.
"My dad made me aware of generosity, helping and caring for others especially around Christmas time when people are less fortunate."
"He was an incredible role model and hopefully, I could be that role model for my children as well."
As a young man, Lowe loved hockey. But it came third to Church and school.
He was brought up to believe that "a Sunday is not a Sunday without Church."
"I don't know what it is . . . but I leave the church feeling refreshed," said Lowe. He found it challenging to find time to attend church on Sundays when he played hockey professionally.
But due to the formation he received at home and firm guidance of his parents he always attended Mass. Lowe recalled that in the 1960s his whole family served in the Mass. His parents were lectors while the Lowe children served at the altar.
"My first goal in NHL, which happens to be Oilers' first goal ever was exciting, but for me . . . one of my favourite things is serving in the church as a family back in the 1960s."
When Lowe became an NHL hockey player, suddenly he was a role model, who was also faced with a vast array of temptations like money and the adulation of fans.
"It's almost like I was that kid in the candy shop again. So I thanked God and my mom for the little lesson I learned as a young guy."
"Honesty and integrity would help me through this different life that I was faced with."
"Did I handle those years as a perfect player or a perfect person? No." As a normal person he succumbed to temptations at times. But Lowe prides himself for not losing his faith, honesty and integrity.
"When I faced adversity on a personal or professional level, I was able to call on that faith to help me see what was really important."
Honesty and integrity are ideals that Lowe has taken and applied to everything he does.
"Hockey is a passion for me and the business side of it often . . . forced me to compromise and deal with people who are not totally forthright."
Lowe experienced some people who distort the truth or lie blatantly. But remembering the gum incident helped him to stay on the right path.
"It's far better to maintain your integrity and tell the truth and simply not let dishonesty become an option."
When he trades a player if he couldn't say something good about him, he says nothing. But if asked specifically about the player, he tells the truth.
He believes that no amount of building up a player's ability or character will assist in a deal. "So why not tell the truth."
"The Edmonton Oilers prides itself for acquiring players with character and integrity."
When assessing a player, Lowe always first asked if he has strength of character and the quality of commitment he possesses before his talent is considered.
Lowe thinks of himself as a role model for his team, for Edmonton and for the country at large.
"I know how important leadership and character are and I know if I betray the trust that has been placed in me the most disappointed person would be me."
Lowe, who is married to former downhill skier Karen Percy, believes that "we need what the Church can provide us."
Now with four children, he attends Church regularly although he said that "getting four kids to church is a test of faith sometimes."
His wife, Karen, a two-time bronze medal winner for Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, takes her role in raising their family in the Catholic faith seriously. She converted to Catholicism after they got married.
"All of us shoulder the responsibility of leading others, especially our children, down the path of integrity."
"It is next to impossible to force them down that path, but if we walk it first, they are sure to follow and hopefully we wouldn't have to take them to that corner grocery store with a partly consumed package of gum."
Men of Integrity is a group under the umbrella of Catholic Family Ministries. The group aims at reviving the role of men as spiritual leaders of the family.
Small groups of men in different parishes are encouraged to be role models for their family by being witness to Christian faith and by praying with their wives and children and leading them to participate at Mass every Sunday.
Fathers and sons as well as four priests attended the breakfast.
The group is planning to hold two breakfasts a year and it will invite speakers who are considered role models for the Catholic community.
For more information, contact Maurice Beier at 459-1065.
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