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Say it ain’t so, St. Joe

Archdiocesan priests fall to Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph priests in second annual Pitching for Priests softball game 

by Todd Habiger

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the priests of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the second inning of the second annual Pitching For Priests softball game was akin to “Titanic” meets “The Towering Inferno,” meets “Godzilla.” In other words, it was an epic disaster.

Things started off well for the archdiocese as they faced the priests from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph at Community America Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas. Behind the pitching of newly ordained Father Daniel Morris and some stellar defense, the archdiocesan priests shut out the Missouri diocese in the first inning and scored four runs in the bottom half of the first to take an early 4-0 lead.

Ah, but then that second inning happened. Seven of the 10 batters Kansas City-St. Joseph sent to the plate scored as the defense that was so good for the archdiocese in the first inning faltered in the second. Although the archdiocese would score two runs in their half of the second inning to bring the score to 7-6, they would never get any closer and eventually fell 17-12 in a six-inning affair.

“In a game like this, defense is so important. And that’s something that, when you play only once a year together, it’s tough to make that happen,” said Father Andrew Strobl, pastor of Holy Name Parish, in Kansas City, Kansas.

Despite the loss, priests from the archdiocese were happy with the game they played.

“We were all out here not to impress anybody but just to have some fun,” said Father Shawn Tunink, currently studying canon law at Catholic University of American in Washington, D.C. “But most of all, it let the fans see that being a priest is an amazing vocation and we can have fun.

“Hopefully, the young guys out there — our batboys and the boys in the stands — see that being a priest is not just an amazing call from God, but one that’s full of life and joy.”

The crowd of more than 2,200 had a great time, despite the threat of rain, many showing up with signs to support their team or favorite priests.

“With the weather the way it was, I was afraid that people would be scared off, but we had a pretty full stadium. God bless them for coming out and supporting both dioceses,” said Father Pat Sullivan, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Shawnee.

“It was beautiful to see so many families together,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “That’s what we are hoping — to promote this as a family event.”

The fans really liked seeing the priests from both sides in a different setting.

“It’s so cool to see the guys and their camaraderie,” said Dick Shaw, a member of Christ the King Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. “All of these young men [in the stands] get to see what it’s like to be a priest. They are really human.”

Janice Greb of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood couldn’t agree more.

“It was great fun,” she said. “You get a chance to come out and support the priests. You get to see them be normal guys and, a minute later, see them singing ‘Salve Regina’ by home plate at the end of the game.”

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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