.- Thanks to discussions between a priest and a minor league baseball team official, the Kane County Cougars of the Class A Midwest League hosted a Catholic Mass before a Friday baseball game earlier this month.
The Cougars of the Class A Midwest League, a team affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, organized the Mass at their baseball field in the Chicago suburb of Geneva.
The liturgy began at 5:30 p.m. and Mass attendees were required to have a ticket for the game. The July 16 event, which was billed as “Mass on the Grass,” drew participants from 14 area churches.
Cougars assistant general manager Jeff Ney said about 400 people attended the service. He did not think any players attended because they were preparing for the game. He added that the players have baseball chapel service on Sundays.
While the team was unsure whether it would hold any similar services this year, it planned to have religious events next year with other faiths and denominations as well.
Asked if there were any complaints about the event, general manager Jeff Sedivy told USA Today, “Not at all. Not one.” He added that the Catholic Mass was the first religious event the team had hosted simply because Cougars media relations coordinator Shawn Touney, a Catholic, had the idea.
In a Friday interview, Ney told CNA that the event resulted from conversations Touney had with his friend Fr. Paul Fasano, a parochial vicar at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, Ill.
Talking about a possible outing for one of their youth ministries, the two wondered whether they could have a church service as part of the event.
“It just grew from there,” Ney reported, confirming that Fr. Fasano was the celebrant at the Mass.
Parishes were informed of the event by telephone, Ney added. Though youth ministries were the initial target of the promotion, senior citizens and others were well represented at the event.
Feedback about the Mass was “generally really good,” with many looking forward to attending a similar event next season. The weather provided “a beautiful afternoon with clear skies,” though the temperature was hot and the priest had to paperclip the sacramentary used during Mass because of a strong breeze.
According to an e-mail from Ney, Fr. Fasano threw the ceremonial First Pitch before the start of the game, in which the Cougars defeated the South Bend Silver Hawks by a score of 8-0.