Column: Baseball camp uses sport to lead kids to Christ

The Sports Apologist
Peter Piscitello is the executive director of the Catholic Youth Organization for Johnson and Wyandotte County.

by Peter Piscitello

They say that this time of year, hope springs eternal.

As Catholics, we’re in the midst of a Lenten journey with the great hope of Easter just weeks away. The world follows suit as the weather begins to warm and signs of life emerge.

This reality extends to sports as well. As an avid baseball fan, I can almost hear the crack of the bat and smell the fresh-cut grass as another season gets underway this month.

Here in Kansas City, we’ve barely finished cleaning the confetti from streets of a dream season and yet another adventure begins. It’s a time of year when anything seems possible, when we are reminded that we were born to hope — most certainly in God, but also in the smaller aspects of everyday life.

It’s against this backdrop that our CYO is thrilled to announce the return of one our favorite events. Mike Sweeney’s Catholic Baseball Camp returns to Kansas City this summer July 20-22.

Presented by our CYO, the camp is a beautiful experience of faith and sport for boys ages 8-15, an awesome opportunity to grow in faith and learn baseball from boyhood heroes and major league all-stars. Sweeney, who leads the camp each day, calls it “using the greatest game ever played to tell the greatest story ever told.”

Many of you remember Sweeney as the player who made five All-Star Games over 17 years with the Royals. A devout Catholic, this camp represents his vision to share Christ through the medium of baseball, to celebrate the Catholic faith while providing baseball instruction and fun.

Each day begins with Mass, followed by a mix of tremendous speakers, baseball instruction and lots of fun. In the afternoon, there’s a rosary and confession on the fields. Praise and worship music mingles with the pop of baseballs in gloves and the joyous laughter of boys living a dream. Camp participants also receive Royals tickets for a night at the stadium.

Personally, I’ve been blessed to visit every major league ballpark, attend three World Series and an All-Star Game. But the Catholic Baseball Camp remains my favorite baseball-related event I’ve experienced. I’ve never witnessed another sports event that has the power to lead children to Christ in just three days the way this camp does. I would invite all of you to join us this summer. You can register or learn more online at: www.catholicbaseballcamp.org. Space is limited, so register now.

I pray that each of you will have a fruitful Lent and blessed Easter season ahead. May hope spring eternal for each of our families . . . and perhaps also our teams!

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