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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.

WANT TO GO?
WHAT: I-80 Collar Series.
WHEN: Fathers’ Day, June 19, 5 p.m. game; 3 p.m. gates open; noon tailgating.
WHERE: Werner Park, Nebraska Highway 370 and 126th Street, Sarpy County.
TICKETS: priests, seminarians and religious sisters/brothers free; $10 per person or $30 for two adults and children under 18; children 2 and under free. All must have a ticket – even those attending free. Tickets available online at spiritcatholicradio.com and archomaha.org; in Omaha at Spirit Catholic Radio studio, the Archdiocese of Omaha Chancery, Adoremus Books, the Cosgrave Company and Gloria Deo.
T-SHIRTS: I-80 Collar Series in blue for Archdiocese of Omaha, red for Diocese of Lincoln. $8.50, adult sizes available through all ticket outlets; children’s only at Spirit Catholic Radio studio. 
Contact, Spirit Catholic Radio at 855-571-0200 or spiritcatholicradio.com.
 
CHEER THEM ON
The Omaha archdiocese lineup: Fathers Frank Baumert, Mark Beran, Benjamin Boyd, John Brancich, FSSP, Ross Burkhalter, Damien Cook, Michael Eckley, Paul Hoesing, Frank Jindra, Marcus Knecht, David Korth, Tobias Letak, Jeffrey Lorig, Mark McKercher, John Pietramale, Andrew Roza, Eliot Schwer, Kevin Vogel, Michael Voithofer, Damien Wee and James Weeder.
 
 

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