My son loves baseball. He plays year round and it’s his absolute favorite sport in the world. So a few years ago when I heard there was a Catholic Baseball Camp run by retired MLB All Star Mike Sweeney, I knew it was the perfect camp for my son. At the time, the camp was only available in Kansas City, so the logistics of getting him out there kept him from going the camp. However once they opened a second camp in Chicago (about five hours from our home in Columbus, Ohio), we decided to check it out. I have to admit I was a little worried my son wouldn’t like it, or it would be too “churchy” and not enough baseball, but he absolutely LOVED the camp and is already signed up to attend again this summer.
The camp opened up Sunday night with “Catholic Family Night” and our whole family attended. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Burke Masters, aka “The Baseball Priest,” director of vocations for the diocese of Joliet and the Chaplain of the Chicago Cubs. F. Burke shared his amazing conversion story with us. Although he was not raised Catholic, he attended a Catholic high school and fell in love with the Eucharist and the Catholic Church. Fr. Burke played college-level baseball and received a degree in sports administration. While working for a minor league team, Fr. Burke felt the call to the priesthood and was ordained in 2002. (Check out the whole story.) It was such a powerful witness to everyone who attended. The evening continued with a talk by Mike Sweeney, Kansas City Royals all-star and devout Catholic. He shared with us his baseball journey and although it was so amazing to be inducted into the KC Royals Hall of Fame, nothing was more important than “being in God’s Hall of Fame.” The evening concluded with Eucharistic Adoration and confession. It was an amazing night my whole family enjoyed and would have been worth the trip just to attend the night!
Camp began Monday morning. For 3 days the boys attended Mass together, followed by talks by Fr. Burke, Mike Sweeney, and other MLB players. The rest of the day there was some serious baseball to be played! The boys did baseball drills and games and ended each day with praying the Rosary together (on super-cool baseball rosaries). They were grouped together by age and skill level, so there was lots of good baseball played. More importantly, my son made lots of great new friends who all shared his love of baseball and Catholic faith! Each night he excitedly told me about everything he did, and even loved the “adoration station” — a chance to stop and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in between drills. The week ended with all the families going to the sold-out Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs game, which was fun for our whole family.
For me, the whole camp was a home run. Finding something my teenager absolutely loved while giving him a positive Catholic experience was priceless and we are looking forward to going again this year. If you have a baseball lover in your home, I would highly recommend Catholic Baseball Camp! More information and registration at CatholicBaseballCamp.org/Chicago
Copyright 2018 Michele Faehnle