PHILADELPHIA — Two Ukrainian Catholic prelates have placed a culinary wager on the outcome of the Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics, is rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, in their first Super Bowl appearance since 2005. Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, is rooting for the New England Patriots — the returning Super Bowl champions and perennial powerhouse.
To show their confidence in their respective home teams, the bishops announced Feb. 1 they have placed a friendly wager on the ultimate outcome of the game. The beneficiaries will be either the chancery staff in Philadelphia or the chancery staff in Stamford.
“If the Eagles do not fly high on Sunday,” Soroka said, “we will provide a luncheon for the Stamford chancery staff highlighted with Philadelphia cheesesteaks. However, I do not suspect I will have to do so.”
While Chomnycky and his chancery staff are looking forward to the Philly cheesesteak luncheon, the bishop stated that “if the Eagles fly high and the Patriots experience a rare defeat,” he will provide the Philadelphia chancery staff with a luncheon “with Boston cream pie as the dessert.”
The Ukrainian leaders’ wager came a day after one announced by another Eagles’ fan, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, and another New England Patriots’ supporter, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston. The two prelates, who are longtime friends and classmates from their seminary days as young Capuchin Franciscans, are wagering $100 donations to aid the poor in their archdioceses.
The Philly cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century “by combining frizzled beef, onions and cheese in a small loaf of bread,” according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s.
According to the owners of the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Boston cream pie was first created at the hotel by an Armenian-French chef, M. Sanzian, in 1856 and originally called a chocolate cream pie. While other custard cakes may have existed at the time, baking chocolate as a coating was a new process, making it unique and a popular choice on the menu.
The name “Boston cream pie” first appeared in the 1872 Methodist Almanac and was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts Dec. 12,1996.
While both bishops are rooting for their respective home teams, they said they see the big game as an American tradition that brings the nation together on Super Bowl Sunday.
“It is amazing how on this one Sunday, people throughout the nation, indeed throughout the world, come together to watch a game played by grown men. Families, neighbors and organizations have parties and socials to enjoy this American classic. It is a unifying event,” Soroka said.
Chomnycky commented, “While we all hope for an exciting and competitive football game on Sunday, we also look forward to good sportsmanship and camaraderie among the players and fans both on and off the field. For a few hours, we are able to forget about the many problems throughout the world.”