Sold out: In Dublin, a Navy-Notre Dame rivalry

By Cian Molloy

DUBLIN — A sudden influx of American visitors has alerted Ireland that it is home to the annual Navy-Notre Dame football match Sept. 1.

Navy and Notre Dame first played in Dublin in 1996. They meet again Sept. 1, this time at Aviva Stadium. (CNS photo/Courtesy University of Notre Dame Athletic Department)

Billed as the Emerald Isle Classic, the game takes place in Aviva Stadium, home to Ireland’s national rugby and soccer teams. The stadium, opened in 2010, is Ireland’s second-largest sporting arena, but it was promoted in the U.S. as “an intimate venue” because its 51,700 capacity is smaller than many of the stateside stadiums where these two college teams have met.

In fact, each locker room has only 28 lockers — far fewer than the more than the number of players on the team’s travel roster.

The game has been sold out since March. More than 35,000 fans are traveling across the Atlantic for the game, making it the largest ever American audience at an overseas sporting event — topping even the U.S. attendance at Olympic matches. The 15,000 not coming from the U.S. include many groups of Notre Dame alumni from mainland Europe.

Notre Dame leads the rivalry with a 72-12-1 record. The two teams first met in Dublin in 1996.

On game day, some 5,000 Notre Dame fans will attend Mass in Dublin Castle, and the Notre Dame pre-match tailgate takes place in Temple Bar, dubbed Ireland’s Cultural Quarter. Navy fans will make their presence felt on the streets of Dublin when 1,000 midshipmen march from the USS Fort McHenry in Dublin Port to Aviva Stadium.

Whoever wins the game, the Irish will come out winners: The game and surrounding events are anticipated to bring $100 million to the Irish economy!

‘Behind every successful man …’

By Daniel Linskey

Catholic officials at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Gouyave, Grenada, honored the family of Olympic gold medalist Kirani James.

A parishioner presents flowers to Annie James, mother of Olympic gold medalist Kirani James, while his sister, Akira, and father, Doranni, look on. (CNS photo/Diocese of St. George’s in Grenada.)

James, 19, won the 400-meter race in 43.94 seconds Aug. 6, beating the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos by more than half a second.

At the end of a simple Mass, parishioners and Father Sean Doggett, a member of the St. Patrick Missionary Society, presented flowers and a plaque to Kirani’s mother, Annie James, on behalf of Bishop Vincent M. Darius and the Catholic community of Grenada.

“We are proud of your son and we are proud of you,” said the plaque.

Before the presentation, Father Doggett said, “Behind every successful man is a woman, and the woman behind this young man of whom we are all so proud is his mother.”

Kirani James’ medal was Grenada’s first in any Olympics.

Afterward, the athlete told the New York Times, “I think there are quite a few street parties going on … I just go out there and just try to do my best in terms of representing my country in a positive way. As long as I do that, they are going to be proud of me, and as long as they are proud of me I’m happy with that.

Students in action: working for Olympic moment of silence

Students in the Sociology of Sports class at The Catholic University of America have joined a project to try to commemorate the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In addition to posting this video on YouTube, in December the students wrote Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, urging a moment of silence during the opening ceremony July 27. CUA President John Garvey supported the students’ letter in his own letter to the officials, dated May 31.

Members of the sociology of sports class at The Catholic University of America advocate one moment of silence during the opening ceremony of the Olympics to commemorate the Munich Massacre. (CNS photo/courtesy of David Bauman, CUA)

In the letter, the students said although they were not born at the time of the massacre, “We are the Sept. 11 generation … we are confident that we have (an) understanding of the magnitude of the attacks that occurred on Sept. 5, 1972.

In their video, the students ask others to sign a petition for the moment of silence.

“This is not about politics, this is not even about religion,” said one student.”This is about 11 victims who lost their lives by an act of terror.”

In 1972, members of the Palestinian group Black September kidnapped the Israeli team members and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners. The Israelis, a West German police officer and eight members of Black September were killed. Israel is widely believed to have retaliated against those suspected of involvement, beginning with military operations in 1973.

Bishops make World Series wager

Items at stake in World Series bet.

With the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers facing off in this year’s World Series two bishops are paying close attention.

The St. Louis Review is reporting that St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson made a friendly wager over the games with former Cardinals fan Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers.

Bishop Vann may want to root for both teams since he has strong ties to the St. Louis area. A native of Springfield, Ill., he grew up watching the Springfield Cardinals, which was then a farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. He also spent his seminary years in St. Louis at the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

But a bet’s a bet. And if the Cardinals win, Bishop Vann will send Archbishop Carlson a taste of authentic Texas BBQ along with a Stetson cowboy hat. If the Rangers take the title, Archbishop Carlson will send Bishop Vann a sampler of St. Louis favorites, including toasted ravioli, pretzels, locally-brewed beer and root beer, as well as a Cardinals baseball cap.

The winner will also receive a donation for the local Catholic Charities: $10 for every run scored throughout the series.

Catholic school alumnae play in FIFA Women’s World Cup

Several Catholic school alumnae are competing in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off June 26 in Germany.

On the U.S. team, forwards Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez both attended Catholic high schools: Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, N.Y., and Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., respectively.

Their teammate, midfielder Shannon Boxx, is a University of Notre Dame graduate, where she helped her team win their first NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship title in 1995.

Striker Kelly Smith will be playing for England, but attended Seton Hall University, where she became the first athlete outside of basketball to have a jersey number retired.

Representing the Canadians, University of Portland alumna and forward Christine Sinclair set an all-time Division I goal-scoring record during her senior year at 39 goals.

Heather O’Reilly, a midfielder from the U.S. team, attended St. Bartholomew School in East Brunswick, N.J. Read about how the faith has helped this Catholic New Jersey native in her soccer career here.

As baseball fans go, there’s ‘nun better’ than Cleveland’s Sister Mary Assumpta

Sister Mary Assumpta Zabas with Cleveland Indian mascot Slider after throwing out the first pitch before an Indians' game a few years ago. (CNS/Courtesy Catholic Universe Bulletin)

There’s “nun better” in the eyes of the Baseball Reliquary than Holy Spirit Sister Mary Assumpta Zabas of Cleveland.

Sister Mary Assumpta, 64, a longtime fan of the Cleveland Indians, was named the winner of the organization’s Hilda Award for her devotion to the baseball team. The award is given annually for distinguished service as a baseball fan.

Sister Mary Assumpta’s passion for the Cleveland team is well-known throughout northeast Ohio. In the 1970s and 1980s, she became a regular at Indians games, wildly cheering on the team during some of its darkest days. She’s still a regular at games.

In 1982 a local television station gave her a segment –- Tribe Habit — in its newscast. In 1989 she had two cameo appearances in the film “Major League.” Baseball card producer Upper Deck even made a card for her in 1997.

Perhaps the highlight of her career as an Indian fan came in 2005 when she threw out the first pitch at a home game.

Since 1984 she has baked cookies for players, regularly delivering them to the team. The effort evolved into a small business, which she calls Nun Better, in which members of her community and faithful volunteers bake cookies with natural ingredients. Profits benefit the Jennings Center for Older Adults in suburban Garfield Heights, where Sister Mary Assumpta is director of mission development.

She plans to travel to Pasadena, Calif., July 18 to accept the award.

The Baseball Reliquary was established in 2002 in Pasadena, Calif., to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history.

South African church readies for World Cup

Are you a soccer fan? If you are then you know that the World Cup — soccer’s Super Bowl — is set to begin in just 14 days. For the first time in football history, Africa will play host. It’s a great showcase for South Africa, where the games will take place, and the South African church plans to be a big part of the celebration. Check out the video, “Church on the Ball,” produced by the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference. It’s a terrific look at the work of the church in the southern tip of the continent and the people of  the nation that is rolling out its red carpet to the world. If you can’t get there for the big event, the South African church’s website is almost the next best thing.

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