Getting to Heaven and Home Plate
Catholicism and…baseball? What do the two have to do with each other? This past June, they were combined into a five-day camp headed up by Mr. Ryan O’Connor and his group from Highlight Catholic Ministries, based in Denver, Colorado. The Catholic baseball camp was designed for boys ranging from first to eighth grade, and was serious both about teaching the Catholic Faith and about teaching the fundamentals and virtuous habits of baseball.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, represented by former professional baseball player and FSSP Baltimore assistant pastor Fr. Michael J. Cunningham along with seminarians Sam Florance and Joe Duffy, had a hand not only in the layout of the camp and in teaching the Catholic Faith, but also in coaching the boys in the many different skills of the game. The schedule included drills and instruction in hitting, infielding and outfielding, organized games, and contests that tested such skills as throwing accurately, fielding grounders and hitting home runs. Each day opened and closed with prayer and included talks and team prayer with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
When it comes to a Catholic sports camp, one might ask if, aside from the time in prayer, there is any real connection between the baseball skills the campers learn and their Catholic Faith. The answer is a most definitive yes: baseball offers a training ground for the soul as well as the body. For those who have the courage to try baseball, or any sport, and perform before friends, family and strangers, they put themselves at a definite risk of failure, injury and humiliation, all of which are opportunities to grow in patience and humility. Additionally, if we have the courage to risk failure, to get up when we fail and to learn from it, improvement and wisdom will follow. On the other hand, sports also give us a chance to win, succeed and be honored, and to learn the humility, gratitude and other virtues that, for the Christian athlete, must accompany success. Many other virtues come into play on the baseball diamond as well, players learning how to balance such emotions as anger and competitiveness with kindness and good sportsmanship.
Learning the virtues associated with the challenges, successes and failures of a game equips young people with the skills and experience they will need to navigate the twists, turns, losses and victories of life. Through a Catholic baseball camp, our youngsters can learn not only how to get to home plate, but how to get to Heaven, and how to perform with grace, no matter how many curve balls life throws at them. +
Photos provided by Frassati Sports.
December 4, 2019