Local Pastor blesses Phillies on opener
United Methodist minister, a priest and a rabbi walk into a ballpark on Opening Day.
And they bless the baseballs prior to the Philadelphia Phillies’ home opener at Citizens Bank Park on April 12.
No joke. This is the third year of a ritual that has heralded the rebirth of championship baseball in Philly.
The Rev. Jeff Raffauf, pastor of West Lawn United Methodist Church in Reading, joined Rabbi Greg Marx and the Rev. Joe Campellone, president of Father Judge High School, in praying over the baseballs. The ceremony was organized by the host of the John DeBella Morning Show on WMGK 102.9 FM, a classic rock station in Philadelphia.
In his prayer, Raffauf implored “the God of baseball fans everywhere” to bless the baseballs about to be put into play.
“Now, with your blessing, may our beloved Phillies prepare to pitch these baseballs for many strikes. May our golden-gloved heroes snare every batted ball,” the pastor said, before asking help for the home team’s hitters “to beat the cover off these balls.“
Sense of humor
Raffauf said he was wary about participating in the blessing when it was first suggested to him in 2008.
“But I was nominated to do this by members of my church who listen to this station, as the congregation I serve knows of my love for the ‘Fightin’ Phils.’ So this has turned into something fun for me and for the church, and I do believe that God has a sense of humor,” he said.
The pastor added he is “amazed at how many people have heard about this, pat me on the back about it, or recognize me in public because of it. I even heard from my nephew in Denmark who listened to the podcast online! And for what it’s worth, I’ve done this for three season openers now, and the first two have been pretty fantastic for the Philadelphia Phillies!”
The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and made it back to the championship series in 2009 before losing to the New York Yankees.
In his blessing, Raffauf said Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel is prepared to lead his team back to the promised land of the World Series.
“So bless these balls and our beloved Phillies, so that we will vanquish our NL East competitors, slay the overpaid Yankees, and once again dance on Broad Street.
by Suzy Keenan