Pitch for vocations at I-80 Collar Series
Priests will step up to the plate again this year on Father’s Day to promote vocations, pitting archdiocesan clergy against brother priests from the Diocese of Lincoln in a slow-pitch softball game.
The rivalry is all in fun, with Father John Pietramale of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Omaha looking forward to the June 19 game despite the archdiocese’s 31-17 defeat in last year’s inaugural event.
"It’s a family ‘fun-raiser’ for people of all ages," said Father Pietramale, who helped pitch last year and is open to playing any position this year. "Whatever they want me to do," he said.
Last year’s two-hour contest drew about 7,500 people and raised $25,000 for the vocations office in each diocese. Ticket sales have been brisk, and this year’s crowd could hit a Werner Park capacity 9,023 and raise $35,000 for each diocese, said Jim Carroll, executive director of Spirit Catholic Radio, the event coordinator and a co-sponsor.
New this year will be a party after the game, at the stadium for priests and their families, Carroll said. The party will give priests from both dioceses more opportunity to visit, he said.
Archbishop George J. Lucas plans to cheer on the teams, while Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln takes the field, Carroll said.
The two dioceses are helping sponsor the event in Papillion and the primary underwriter is Catholic Mutual Group, Carroll said. About 140 volunteers will help with parking, guiding people to their seats and other tasks, he said.
Plans were to alternate the game between Werner Park in Sarpy County and Haymarket Park in Lincoln, but the Haymarket baseball facility is smaller, with a 4,500-fan capacity, Carroll said.
I-80 Collar Series T-shirts in blue for the archdiocese and red for the Lincoln Diocese can be purchased for $8.50 at the park and in advance from several outlets in Omaha and Lincoln, including Spirit Catholic Radio studios.
Tailgating starts at noon and the ballpark’s gates open at 3 p.m., with water bottles allowed into the park and concession stands open inside.
For details on purchasing tickets and a roster of priests playing for the archdiocese go to catholicvoiceomaha.com.