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First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain

News of the Diocese

June 13, 2023

First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain
First ballpark Mass is a hit despite rain

“I am excited to be here and to gather with people from Lake and Geauga counties and beyond for this first ballpark Mass,” said Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost on June 11 as he began the liturgy under a tent at Classic Park in Eastlake. It was the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi Sunday – a day when many churches typically have Eucharistic processions. It also marks the beginning of the parish year of the Eucharistic Revival.

The rain held off until the Eucharistic procession from nearby St. Justin Martyr Church reached the ballpark. As the procession entered the park, a few raindrops fell. For the next few hours, rain continued intermittently – steady at times -- but Mass attendees were protected under the large tent.

Prior to the Mass -- the first of four ballpark Masses organized as part of the Diocese of Cleveland’s participation in the Eucharistic Revival -- there was adoration in the church. The faithful spent time in silent prayer from after the morning Mass until the procession formed at 3:30 p.m.

An Eastlake police officer in a cruiser led the procession to ensure the participants’ safety as they walked in and along city streets for about a half-mile to the ballpark.

Behind the cruiser, a large group of people followed Deacon John Nelson of Immaculate Conception Parish in Willoughby who led the procession. He was followed by Deacon Tim Shell of St. Justin Martyr who reverently carried the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament under a processional canopy. Other clergy in the procession were Father Kevin Liebhardt, St. Justin Martyr pastor, Father Dave Woost, pastor of Divine Word Parish in Kirtland, and Deacon John Grazia of Divine Word Parish. Those unable to walk rode in a red trolley.

The procession began quietly, but soon after leaving parish grounds, the group began to pray the rosary as they walked.

Once they reached Classic Park, volunteers distributed the first of the four commemorative magnets designed for the ballpark Masses and a worship aid for the liturgy. The baseball card-like magnet featured a picture of Classic Park – home of the Lake Erie Captains baseball team -- and Bishop Woost, celebrant for the Mass.

“This is awesome,” someone in the crowd said.

At 5 p.m., the entrance procession reached the tent and Bishop Woost began the Mass, assisted by Deacon Shell and Deacon Grazia. Concelebrants included Father Liebhardt, Father Woost, Father Andy Turner, incoming president/rector of the diocesan seminaries, and Father Damian Ference, vicar for evangelization and head of the diocesan Parish Life and Special Ministries Office, which coordinated the event. Seminarians were on hand to act as altar servers and emcee for Bishop Woost.

In his homily, Bishop Woost told those gathered that “remember” was an important word in the context of the day’s readings. He reminded them of the 40-year journey the Israelites took, noting they were on the edge of the Promised Land. “Moses told them to remember what God has done for them on their journey. After 40 years, his promise was about to be fulfilled. Everything God did for the Israelites was a pure gift given out of absolute love,” he said.

God accompanied them on every step of the journey and loved them all the way, the bishop said.

“This is a great day to recall what God has done,” he said, noting this applies to parish communities as well.

“Of all the gifts God has blessed us with, the greatest gift is Christ himself. He comes to us out of love and pours the whole of himself out. In the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus makes it clear that ‘If you eat my body and drink my blood, you shall have life within you.’ God wants not just to be with us, but to abide with us,” the bishop said.

He noted how god provided what the Israelites needed – manna to sustain them in the desert -- and he continues to do that for us with the gift of the Eucharist.

The bishop said when we eat a meal, it becomes part of us through a natural process, but “the Eucharist is the only food that changes us into him,” he said, referring to Jesus.

“It didn’t take 40 years, or even 40 minutes, to get here today, but you brought the Lord with you. And now we are doing what the Lord taught us. The bread and wine will be changed into his body and blood and as he told us, I will remain in you and you in me. This is cause for joy,” the bishop said, reminding the faithful that they become living tabernacles when they receive the Eucharist.

“Here we celebrate the body of Christ so we might become the body of Christ,” he added.

After Mass, Father Ference invited the faithful to sing the ballpark Masses theme song, which features special lyrics to the tune of “Take me out to the Ballgame.”

He also thanked those who helped orchestrate the procession and Mass, reminding everyone there are three more ballpark Masses: July 28 at League Park in Cleveland with Bishop Edward Malesic as presider; Aug. 14 at Mercy Health (Crushers) Stadium in Avon with Davenport, Iowa Bishop emeritus Martin Amos as celebrant; and Sept. 10 at Brookside Park in Ashland with Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries, OSB as presider.

Despite the on-again, off-again rain, attendees enjoyed conversation and a ballpark-style meal of hot dogs, burgers, macaroni and cheese, chips, cookies and beverages under the tent.

Learn more about the Eucharistic Revival here. Click here to make a donation to help defray the cost of the ballpark Masses.

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