NEW YORK — On Saturday morning the stands of Citi Field were no longer filled with the standard Mets uniforms and t-shirts. Instead, a crowd of nearly 2,000 fans donned t-shirts asking “What’s my calling?” as a part of the Brooklyn diocese’s first ever Catholic Day.
The daylong event, which focused on promoting vocations to religious life, kicked off with a bi-lingual stadium mass celebrated by Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, followed by entertainment, live music, and games, before the evening ended — some say miraculously–with a Mets victory.
DiMarzio used his homily to stir the attendees to work together to build a “culture of vocations” — taking advantage of the baseball backdrop to make comparisons along the way.
“It is important that we see in sports, a reflection of our faith….Great success comes with teamwork and cooperation,” said DiMarzio.
Part of being on a team, observed DiMarzio, is experiencing the highs and lows together, but being reminded that even when there is failure, there is still shared purpose. So too is life in the Church and the various vocations that bind the Church together argued DiMarizio.
“We need to talk about vocations and show that vocations are important to the life of the Church, no matter marriage, priesthood, religious sisters or brothers, or the permanent diaconate,” he said.
Drawing on his own childhood experience, DiMarzio criticized the fact that too often vocations to religious life are viewed as a second-class calling.
“I always used to say I wanted to be a priest and people would say ‘oh, that’s nice,’” said DiMarzio. “But if I said I wanted to be a doctor, a scientist, or a great baseball player, they would have said, ‘that’s great.’
“There is a great difference as to how people see vocations to the priesthood,” he said.
“When I was young I was very handsome,” DiMarzio added with a hint of mischief in his voice, “I had a full head of hair! And people used to say, ‘he’d make a great husband. Why does he want to be a priest?’ And when my grandmother heard that one day, I never forgot what she said: ‘God wants the best ones for himself.’”
The remarks were greeted with thunderous applause by the more than 50 seminarians, deacons, and priests on hand.
In an interview with Crux before the morning mass, DiMarzio stressed that it was no accident that the diocese had selected a sports arena for the day’s events.
“This is part of our culture, and we have to work with ours, such as sports events, and that’s why we have to work through the culture to see what’s good about it. Sometimes, we have to correct it, but we do our best to work with what’s good,” he said.
For the young attendees at both the mass and the game, DiMarzio hopes that while they discern their vocational callings that they won’t be sidelined by any temporary setbacks.
“We don’t just accept failure as part of life…we keep going on the direction toward God,” he told Crux. “Sports teams do the same, they may lose but they come back again, so I think there is a good comparison between baseball and Catholicism.”
At the opening of the day’s evening, Monsignor Kieran Harrington, Vicar of Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, took to the field to remind those in attendance why they were present.
“We are here today to pray not for the Mets to do better but for an increase of vocations,” said Harrington.
Following an opening pitch that was caught by religious Sister Maria Bello, the Mets dominated the Cleveland Reds 6-1, — a hopeful sign that prayers for both vocations and victory were being heard.
[The DeSales Media Group of the Diocese of Brooklyn is among Crux’s principal sponsors.]