Kari Janisse, youth ministry director at Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown, and her husband, Philip, play for Our Lady of Peace Parish, in the softball league that includes six other Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Camden.
If St. Matthew the Evangelist visited the Camden Diocese today, maybe he would amend his Gospel, “Where two or three are gathered in my name” (18: 20), by adding, “on the baseball diamond….”
Since May, seven parish teams have participated in a parish softball league of sorts, playing each other for fun and bragging rights.
Teams from Holy Family, Sewell; Incarnation, Mantua; and Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown, started playing together in the spring of 2010, as a way for parishioners to stay active and interact with fellow Catholics from different parishes.
This spring, four parish teams have been added to the mix: St. Bridget, Glassboro; St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville; Our Lady of Hope, Blackwood; and Holy Angels, Woodbury.
Each team plays 12 games; two against each team, at each parish’s home field. Next month playoffs will begin to crown a champion.
“Softball brings together friends and family, those who go to church and those who don’t,” says John Kalitz, pastoral associate for evangelization and softball player at Holy Family, noting that the game brings inactive and non-Catholics to the parish, and can serve as one step to getting them back as active members of the church.
Indeed, one of the Holy Family players, 32-year-old pitcher Dave Krips, went through the Rite of Chrisitan Initiation of Adults at the parish and entered into full communion with the Catholic Church this past Easter.
“I was searching for something more,” he said.
The Holy Family team has over 30 players signed up, but with each’s various schedules, not everyone can show up for each game. Still, they meet the requirement of 10 players a side, with an extra outfielder in the game.
The Our Lady of Peace squad, coached by Kari Janisse, director of young adult ministry for the parish, fields 20 young adults. The team’s home is Duffy’s Memorial Field in Williamstown, which they have reserved on Sundays from 9 a.m.-noon, for practices or games.
Janisse, who switches between the positions of first base and rightfield, says the games are an opportunity for the parish’s young adult ministry to meet with other young adults in the diocese, who not only play softball, but who might be looking to meet other Catholics their own age.
“It’s great to be able to talk about our young adult group” with other young adults, she said.