.- A baseball team of 11 Catholic priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington will play a team of high school and college varsity players to help promote vocations. The team’s first baseman, Fr. Larry Young, can’t wait for the game.
“We’re going to start something were we can play three games a year around the archdiocese. This is a forum to promote vocations to the priesthood in a fresh, different way,” said Fr. Young, the pastor of Our Lady’s Church in Leonardtown, Md.
Many of the players have experience in college or high school baseball.
“There’s talent among the seminarians and the priests. I think we’ve got a good team,” the priest said.
The team, named the D.C. Padres, has a roster of five priests and six seminarians. Their first game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4 at Bowie Baysox Stadium in Bowie, Md.
The Catholic community is rallying around the D.C. Padres. One parishioner at Our Lady’s Church ordered the shirts and hats for the men, while St. Mary’s Ryken High school is lending the team their equipment.
During the game’s “third inning stretch,” the team will talk to the crowd about the gift of the priesthood. They will invite young men to pray and consider whether God is calling them to follow him as priests.
Almost 500 game tickets have been sold, Fr. Young told CNA on Sept. 1.
“It should be a nice crowd of people to watch this. People seem to react favorably. It’s a novelty, the first time,” he said.
“It’s kind of extraordinary for people to hear that priests and seminarians are playing fast-pitch baseball. Softball is one thing, and there’s basketball. But playing varsity baseball players is a little unusual.”
Fr. Young developed the idea with Fr. Larry Swink, pastor of Jesus the Divine Word in Huntingtown, Md. Both men witnessed the success of the D.C. Hood basketball team, which is also made up of priests and seminarians.
The basketball team has been around for several years, and Fr. Young has played in a few games.
“The basketball team this year is going to be awesome,” he reported. “Their team is stacked.”
The team travels to area parishes and has four or five games a year. During halftime the crowd hears from a priest or seminarian who talks about vocations.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore also has a basketball team called Men In Black. Fr. Young recommended that other dioceses consider similar sports programs to encourage vocations.
“It seems like it’s spreading,” he said. “If nothing else, it creates buzz and people talk about these things. It just keeps it in people’s minds.”
“It’s a nice, light, fun event that lets people see their priests out there in a different setting than they’re used to.”
Tickets to the 2 p.m. Sept. 4 Baysox game will serve as admittance to the later D.C. Padres game. The team is also offering discounted tickets through the parish office at Our Lady’s Church.