The fourth time was the charm for the diocesan Eucharistic Revival Team and the series of outdoor ballpark Masses that were scheduled around the diocese this summer.
Brookside Park in Ashland, the southernmost area of the diocese, was the location of the final ballpark Mass of the season. Although the Mass took place outside in the park, it wasn’t actually in a ballpark.
However, the Young Adult Ministry all-star softball game preceded Mass.
Mike Hayes, director of Young Adult Ministry for the diocese, said the game was a success, as was the league’s season. Despite rainy weather in Cleveland, the skies were blue, it was sunny and in the low 70s throughout the seven-inning softball game that pitted “The Ludwigs” against “The Logans.” Fans cheered on both teams. The final score was 9-2, with The Ludwigs taking bragging rights.
After celebrating their victory, the players and fans joined others around the corner from the baseball field as they gathered for Mass at the Guy Chase Myers Memorial Band Shell. About 250 people, including some from nearby parishes, attended the liturgy. Students from Ashland University’s Newman Ministry served as greeters and distributed worship booklets.
Celebrant was Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries, OSB. Concelebrants were Father Damian Ference, vicar for evangelization and director of Parish Life and Special Ministries; Father Steve Moran, pastor of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Wooster; Father Patrick Schultz, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Wadsworth; Father Ed Suszynski, pastor of Our Lady Help of Christian Parish, which has worship sites in Litchfield, Seville, Nova and Lodi; Father Rod Kreidler, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Ashland and administrator of St. Peter Parish in Loudonville; and Father Matt Byrne, pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Parma Heights. Retired Deacon Paul Kipfstuhl assisted.
Father Moran also was the homilist.
“Thank you, Ashland for the sunny day,” Bishop Gries said. He noted the other three Masses were celebrated under a tent or in churches because of rain.
The first in June was at Classic Park in Eastlake. However, rain forced the celebration under a large tent at the ballpark with Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost presiding. The second, in July, was scheduled for historic League Park in Cleveland, but moved across the street to St. Agnes/Our Lady of Fatima Church after heavy rain earlier in the day. The third Mass was planned for Mercy Health Park in Avon in August, but rain throughout the day forced the Mass into St. Joseph Church in Avon Lake.
In his homily, Father Moran said we should pray that the word of God would find fertile soil in us. “We need an agenda and God is our agenda,” he said. “Jesus Christ comes with an agenda – to reveal God’s love for us as individuals and as people.”
He also was thankful that the United States bishops provided “a clear agenda for us for the Eucharistic Revival.” While an outdoor Sunday Mass at a bandstand may not be for everyone, he said it helps provide a broader perspective of who is the body of Christ.
In the first reading, Father Moran said we are instructed on how to act. If we see a danger coming and do not speak up, “the souls of those bringing the peril and your own will be in danger,” he explained.
In the second reading, he said Jesus commands us to love one another and he has loved us. “But following the great commandment is not enough. We also must follow the other commandments.”
Father Moran said it might be necessary to admonish a sinner, but there is an appropriate way to do so. “Try to keep it between the two of you and if that doesn’t work, expand the supportive circle and be sure that all in the circle are following the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he added.
Addressing the Nov. 7 ballot issue dealing with abortion, Father Moran said the bishops of Ohio have given clear direction about this potentially deadly issue, explaining that they want to ensure we have the necessary guidance from our spiritual leaders.
“Encourage at every opportunity the chance to advance the agenda who is Jesus Christ,” he told those gathered for the liturgy.
After Mass, Father Ference invited the group to sing the “Ballpark Mass Theme Song,” a parody of “Take me out to the Ballgame.”
Bishop Gries mingled with the faithful, chatting and posing for photos and a food truck was on site for those who wanted to purchase refreshments.