Saturday, October 9, 2021
Jonathan Martinez - Florida Catholic
Photography: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC
MIAMI | A “Mass at the Park” at first glance sounds like a novel idea. But what if “the park” isn’t your run-of-the-mill park but a state-of-the-art baseball stadium?
On Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, that’s exactly what happened at LoanDepot Park in Miami (formerly Marlins Park) with Archbishop Thomas Wenski as the main celebrant.
The celebration was a joint venture between the Knights of Columbus and the Marlins organization. However, the idea for the Mass began 10 years ago when local councils of the Knights started attending baseball games together. The opportunity to actually celebrate a Mass at the stadium didn't arise until this year, when the Marlins organization announced their desire to have a “faith day” and reached out to the Knights’ Supreme Council.
“We are here and we are proud of our religion,” said Scott O’Connor, supreme director for the Knights, immediate past state deputy for Florida and a Plantation resident. “We are exposing our faith and putting it into action.”
“It’s important to bring the community together, being as one with God in this beautiful facility we have here in Miami,” said Marc Spinola, Grand Knight of Miami Council 1726, who attended the Mass and was part of the Knights’ Color Guard during the ceremony and at the game. “I hope the people that came here got a little closer to God.”
Miami-based Christian band Dupree played music before, during, and after the Mass.
“The most important thing was to evangelize and make Catholicism cool,” said Dylan Dupree, a member of the band. “Just taking such a secular place and making it holy by celebrating Mass is a blessing. It can bring people closer to the sacraments and benefit an amazing charity like the Knights of Columbus.”
Those who attended the Mass also received tickets to the Marlins’ final game of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies. Five dollars from every ticket to the ball game purchased for this special event went towards the American Wheelchair Mission, a partner organization with the Knights of Columbus. The mission delivers brand new, free wheelchairs and mobility aids to physically disabled children, teens and adults throughout the world.
The Knights also presented the Color Guard at the beginning of the game and Robert S. Urrutia, state deputy for the Florida Knights of Columbus, tossed the ceremonial first pitch.
Although the archbishop did not throw out the first pitch this time around, he has done it before. In fact, his was the first pitch ever at the stadium. In 2012, at the inauguration of the stadium in a game between Belen Jesuit Prep and Christopher Columbus High School, Archbishop Wenski threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the start of the game and delivered the invocation.
“The Catholic Church is very important to the game,” said Jose L. Jimenez, a member of the Knights of Columbus Home Council who flew from Connecticut to take part in the Mass, watch the game, and be with his brother Knights in Florida.
He said the celebration was important not only for the fans but also for the players. “A lot of the players are Catholic and we want them to know that we are here for them. We are hoping to use this as a template to use in other cities and other ballparks and venues.”