We’re talkin’ baseball

Baseball season is right around the corner, kicking off tomorrow when the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney. The rest of the opening matchups take place March 30 and 31.

So, in the spirit of the game, we share with you this story from The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Phoenix Diocese, featuring an interview with Tommy Lasorda, the two-time World Series champion and two-time National League Manager of the Year, who recently spoke at at a Catholic high school in Arizona to benefit the school’s booster club and athletic program.

Tommy Lasorda stands next to his portrait  at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington in 2009. (CNS photo by Reuters)

Tommy Lasorda stands next to his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington in 2009. (CNS photo by Reuters)

The Baseball Hall of Fame describes Lasorda — who had a brief career as a left-handed pitcher — as one of the most enthusiastic and successful managers in baseball history.  It adds that Lasorda was “known for his fondness of pasta and pitching” and led the Los Angeles Dodgers to eight division titles and two World Championships in 21 seasons as manager.

Joyce Coronel, interim managing editor of the Sun,  spoke to Lasorda about baseball, being Catholic, and his marriage of 64 years.

When the 86-year-old was asked how his Catholic faith has strengthened him. He said this:

A lot of times I called on God to help me. I tell him I know he’s busy. He’s got a lot to think about. He’s got a lot of people to help. So if he could see and help me a little bit, I would appreciate it, but I don’t expect him to do anything for me, because he’s got to do certain things that are more important than me.

Remembering Chiara Lubich, forging family ties

ROME — With broad smiles, laughter and applause, the diverse family Chiara Lubich dreamed of gathered last evening to celebrate her life and legacy.

Chiara Lubich, founder of Focolare movement, pictured in 2003

Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement. (CNS/Catholic Press Photo)

Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, died in 2008, but the friendships she formed with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others continue. Marking the sixth anniversary of her death, 200 Focolare members and representatives of other religions held a four-day meeting south of Rome. The gathering ended with a public remembrance of Lubich’s commitment to the unity of the human family at Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian University.

Waichiro Izumita, director of youth programs for the Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist group, said the founder of his movement, the late Nikkyo Niwano, used to say that he believed that before he and Lubich were born, “it was already in God’s plan that we would meet. Before I met the Focolare members, I thought I was the only person in the world crazy enough to try to tackle the problem of universal peace.” But with Lubich he found “there is another crazy person giving her whole self for peace.”

Maria Voce, who succeeded Lubich as president of the Focolare movement, said knowing how to begin a dialogue was one of Lubich’s special gifts. She knew how to listen. “That was her way of concretely living the Gospel message of loving the way we want to be loved.”

Amer Al Hafi, deputy director of Jordan’s Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, told the gathering, “Chiara helped me understand the Quran better,” because she helped him see that “love is the essence of God.”

Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said that while Lubich was intelligent and thoughtful, she knew that interreligious relations, like faith itself, involved much more than book learning. The key to her relationships, he said, was her recognition that “love is at the heart of all religions.”

Cardinal Francis Arinze, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said Lubich’s life and her knack for interreligious relations “is a reason to thank God.”

“Humanity must continually seek better ways to meet one another, understand each other, work together and promote harmony and unity,” he said. “Two or three people can create chaos and start a war, but peace requires the efforts of all of us.”