Playing Poker with a Purpose

It’s never too late to pursue a hobby – just ask Ed Sebesta who in his 70’s developed an interest and then passion for playing casino poker. A member of his family introduced him to the game and before long, Ed was hooked. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

Ed, and his wife Jeanette’s son, Andrew, was a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province who died in 2012, at the age of 39, from a brain tumor. Fr. Andrew entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1997, professing his first vows in 1998. He made his Perpetual Profession of Vows and was ordained a Deacon in 2003, serving at Christ the King Parish in South Bend, Indiana. It was late in 2004 that the brain tumor was discovered and treatments began. Undeterred by the diagnosis and treatments, Fr. Andrew was ordained in April 2005, continuing to receive treatments at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Ed and Jeanette were deeply appreciative of the care Fr. Andrew received both at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and at Holy Cross House, the United States Province’s home for its elder, infirmed and recuperating members, so as Ed’s poker career advanced, he and Jeanette decided that any of their winnings would be donated to Holy Cross, specifically to support the care of elder and infirmed members of Holy Cross.

Beginning with a solid game performance in late 2016, Ed made his first donation from his winnings, more than $23,000.00. Subsequent victories and winnings followed in 2017 and 2018. As Ed’s winnings continued, the idea of creating an endowment in Fr. Andrew’s name surfaced and in April 2018, Ed and Jeanette created The Rev. Andrew M. Sebesta, C.S.C., Endowment for the Care of Elder and Retired Religious, in which his donated winnings would support.

In just three short years since starting his poker career, Ed has gifted more than $130,900.00 to Holy Cross, a significant amount given a part-time hobby.

Following the example of his son, Ed plays poker not with himself in mind but with a commitment to serve others. The United States Province has been doubly blessed by the Sebesta family and is grateful for the footprints Fr. Andrew made throughout his religious life and for the generosity of Ed and Jeanette who honor their son with the same passion and faithfulness in which he embraced his vocation.

To read more about Ed’s journey in poker, visit

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