Just a few hours before the first pitch at Progressive Field on Sept. 22, the Family Deck inside the ballpark was converted for an outdoor Mass celebration.
Above the field where mid-afternoon batting practice was taking place, a white and green cloth stretched across a table located in section 334 to serve as an altar for the 1,000-plus Catholics who attended the pre-game Mass as part of this year’s Catholic Family Day.
Father Bob Stec from St. Ambrose Parish in Brunswick was the celebrant. Members of parishes throughout the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland and across Ohio were greeted by Father Stec and members of the St. Ambrose choir. The choir also performed the national anthem on the field as part of ceremonial game-day festivities.
Father Stec began his homily with a breakdown of what needed to happen for the Indians to secure an American League wild card spot.
“Those filling the stands today are probably pleading to God to please give Cleveland a win,” he said. Chuckling could be heard as someone from the stands gave an impromptu, “Amen!”
Father Stec said that this pleading and sense of control is a central message of the day’s Gospel.
“As believers we cannot have everything our way and God’s way,” he said as he asked the crowd to reflect on personal successes and blessings. He explained it is what is done with words and through actions with such blessings that point others towards God and allows our faith to serve as witness of Christ.
Father Stec also provided an update since last year’s Catholic Family Day. He noted that the offertory collection supported Project Warmth, a ministry group that purchases new coats for children and teens.
“Thank you to those who were here last season for your support. The offertory helped provide 6,000 winter coats to youth across the area,” he said. “This year the offertory collection will also contribute to this effort as we work to distribute coats again. Autumn is the season of harvest and blessing. May this be a reminder to be generous with the abundant blessings of Jesus, as God’s way is a way of abundance.”
The fans were rewarded with a Tribe win -- 10-1 over the Philadelphia Phillies.