Archive for March, 2011

This week you’ll see a story in The Catholic Review about Baltimore Catholics keeping the faith when it comes to the Orioles. You’ll meet Calvert Hall English teacher Brendan Bailey, a 28-year-old super fan, who grew up in St. Joseph, Fullerton, and current is a parishioner of St. Ursula in Parkville.
Here’s a Q&A I had with him.

What’s your earlier Orioles memory?

I cannot remember a time when I was not a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Some of my earliest memories involve going with my dad down to Memorial Stadium, and feeling like the whole place was so much larger than life. That massive dedication wall seemed like it reached up to the Heavens for a little kid, and seeing the guys whose baseball cards I collected in real life felt too good be true.

What hooked you on the team and did you have a favorite player and why?

The Ripken brothers were definitely my idols growing up. My grandfather was a close friend of Cal Senior, and often spoke about the man’s dedication and work ethic. His boys were heroes to me. I played 2nd base in little league and always dreamed of being able to turn a double play as smoothly and cleanly as Billy Ripken, and thought it was fascinating that two brothers could be beside one another on the infield of a major league team. I’m still the only guy I see wearing a Billy Ripken jersey down to Camden Yards. But Cal is a hero to this city. His humility, work ethic, and talent made him every kid in Baltimore’s favorite player.

Did you have a childhood where they were mostly good or average as a team?

I vividly remember the 1996 and 1997 seasons; that wire-to-wire year in 1997 was absolutely unforgettable.

Why did you buy season tickets amidst all the bad teams they’ve had?

When I was finally old enough and financially able to make the investment, it seemed like a no-brainer. A real fan stands by his team regardless of the win-loss record. My faith in their future merits my support. For my wife and I, the season ticket plan is a guaranteed date night every other week. What better place to be with your sweety than in the most beautiful ballpark in America watching the team you have loved your entire life?

How hard have the last couple of years been to watch?

I think last year’s season was the hardest of all. In years past, the team didn’t really give much hope in the first place, but last year for some reason Dave Trembley had me convinced that the team was really going to put it together. After watching Adam Jones and Matt Wieters clobber home runs in the opening game, I took it as a sign. However, the more appropriate sign was the blown save at the end of that game, and the blown season that fell apart in front of my eyes.

What gets you through the bad seasons and what keeps you coming back to the team?

I come back again and again because one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, this is a team that will turn things around. This is a city that is desperately trying to love its baseball team again, and when the pieces come together and the team takes that wild ride through the playoffs, I want to sit in those stands and know with pride that I was with them through it all.

How much Orioles merchandise do you have? Favorite jersey you own?

Too much, and my collection seems to grow every season. Probably a half dozen hats, 4 or 5 jerseys, and more t-shirt tuesday shirts featuring former orioles than I could wear in an entire season! My real joy is collecting bobbleheads; I have a growing collection in my Orioles-themed basement. I also love signed Orioles gear. My favorite piece of them all is my Billy Ripken jersey; I can’t tell you how many times people at Camden Yards have asked me, “Wasn’t Ripken’s number 8?” I wonder if Billy gets that a lot!

Have you ever lost hope or gotten to the point where you’ve said prayer for something involving the Orioles?

I refuse to pray for sports teams; I tell that to my students all the time too. God has more important things to do than worry about whether the Orioles win or lose. But, let’s not forget, Jesus always reached out to the underdogs, the people most ignored by society, those people most cast off and hated. Doesn’t that seem to suggest that Jesus would be an Orioles fan?!

What are you most excited about this season?

I want to see Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta become the aces that I know they are capable of being. I want to see Guthrie finally establish himself as the professional veteran #1 starter that O’s fans believe he can be. And, more than anything in the world, I want to see Matt Wieters be the first Oriole to hit a homerun off the warehouse.

Do you think they’ve got the pieces to compete?

If Matuz, Arrieta, Britton, and Bergesson continue to develop, yes. It all comes down to starting pitching.

Are you going to Opening Day?

Absolutely. It is the most exciting day of the year for me. Go O’s!

Well, that took almost as long as a real pregnancy.
Back on July 19, 2010, I sent a missive via email to the editorial staff of The Catholic Review. Think Jerry McGuire’s Mission Statement without the goldfish.
The subject was nebulous, but grand. “Millennials Multi-Story Idea.”
It sounded like I was either going to write about flowers or time travel in a DeLorean.
In it, I explained how I wanted to chronicle the generation of teens and 20-somethings from the Archdiocese of Baltimore that were going to board flights and head to Madrid with their Iphones and Ipads (were Ipads even around then?) in August of 2011 and hang with a million other young Catholics and Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day. Basically, it would be a prep course for our readers and a mirror for young people, who admittedly don’t read The Catholic Review in droves. They’re the generation elusive to most newspapers. I wanted to capture them in a snapshot series and bring them into the Catholic discussion, even if some were coming kicking and screaming.
Who are they? What do they do? What do they they believe in? What is their cause? How connected are they? What paradoxes exist and can you really just lump a whole generation of people together just based on studies? Not only that, but someone born in 1982 is not going to have too much in common with someone born in 1992.
They’re as different as He-Man and the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
Everything would be peeled back over a span of months, leading up World Youth Day. I would talk to young people and experts to make it happen. I’d film interviews and have audio interviews in mp3 format.
We met about the idea a day after the email opus. Everyone was excited. If there were Jerry McGuire fish around, I’m sure they would have been coming with me.
The first trimester passed and outside of some conversations, there was little sign of life.
Then, the story started kicking. I did some groundwork, attending a workshop with U.S. Catholic Bishops back in November and visited Mount St. Mary’s campus in Emmitsburg in early December. I talked with four young people and Father Brian Nolan, chaplain there. Before we started, Father Brian prayed for me and my work. Hey, at least God’s now in the loop, I thought.
The students blew me away. They were smart, aware and so insightful it was almost shocking.
In mid-January, I sat down with a Loyola University Maryland official and three students. Again, I was inspired to write and amazed how comfortable they were in front of cameras and how aware they were of the world’s issues.
Our target date for publication was Feb. 10, 2011, but we hit some snags along the way in scheduling. It felt like the home stretch would never come.
Finally, I settled in and cranked out the story two weeks ago, along with a timeline sidebar that would feature events that dot the landscape of a Millennial’s life. After some rounds of editing with the staff here at The Review, it was finally released this past Thursday. It was surreal seeing it finally in print. I couldn’t have done it without the support and hard work of co-workers April Hornbeck and Jenn Williams, who pushed and supported me
A Millennial page is being set up here at to stockpile the stories and multimedia featuring the young people interviewed for this series.
I’ve got to get to work on the next installment in the series. The journey has only begun. Who’s coming with me?

Marlene Lauer, a parishioner of Holy Trinity in Glen Burnie, was a chief organizer of the successful Adore-a-thon March 11. There’s a story about the night at Church of the Crucifixion coming in the March 17 paper.

She was kind enough to answer some questions for the blog.

Matt: What’s your reaction to how Adore-a-thon went?

Marlene: I’m thrilled that it was so well-attended. I think it was well-organized and the youths who came were open to sitting quietly before the Lord, listening to the vocation panel and enjoyed all the activities we had planned. Lots of planning goes into it and you have to put yourself into that teenage mind to see what will get them excited and make them want to return the following year.

Matt: How far has the Adore-a-thon come in recent years?

Marlene: This was our Third year. It has always been a very blessed night, but this year, we had more participants and more enthusiasm due to the excitement of the returning youths. The planning committee is becoming more creative year after year as well.

Matt: Why do you think it took off this year?

Marlene: We opened it up to the entire archdiocese and advertised well. We had the support of other youth ministers in the area. Returning youths from prior years encouraged their friends to come this year.

Matt: Is there a particular moment you’ll take away from it?

Marlene: When I walked into the Church during the boys Holy Hour and witnessed them quietly praying, I knew some hearts were being touched by God. I can only imagine what the Lord will do with their lives.

Matt: Why do you think some teens are becoming so comfortable with talking about vocations?

Marlene: I can only speak for the youth I work with at Holy Trinity and the Church of the Crucifixion. They know if they follow the Lord’s plan, that’s where they will find their greatest joy. We teach them to be OPEN to wherever the Lord is calling them. They seem to really “get it.”

Matt: What is it about the vocations push that keeps you going?

Marlene: I really love the Catholic faith and know that it can’t go on without priests, sisters and holy sacramental marriages. I love working with youth and know that vocations and youths have to come together in order for vocations to flourish. I also am encouraged by the priests and sisters who come out every year to support the event.

Matt: What’s next?

Marlene: Next is the Convent Tour for the young ladies on March 26th. Then V.I.P. (Vocations in Progress) day for the young men on April 18th. And, of course, planning for the next Adore-a-thon in Spring 2012. My prayer is that one day this would take off and become an archdiocesan event that all parishes would attend and take an active role in planning.

I’m working on a story for the March 17 edition of The Catholic Review on Adore-a-thon, an event held at Church of the Crucifixion in Glen Burnie this past weekend. I also will have a video in the coming days on the event here at Matt Palmer’s blog.

But, I wanted to share some of Father Bolger’s thoughts here. He’s associate pastor for that parish and two others in Glen Burnie. These were kids who willingly chose to participate in an all-night vocations activity on a Friday.

He looked around the room at the March 11 Adore-a-thon and said, “They don’t carry the same sadness that you see in a lot of the faces of young people. They’re not lost. They know who they are.”

He said the young people in the room can be inspiration for others.

“I encourage them to, in their school or on their sports teams, to be that leaven, that salt, that light of the world. Witness by the way you live your life. I see these young people as courageous. They don’t just keep it here because it’s a message of hope, while at the same time a message of contradiction. They like being part of that. It’s exciting.”

Father Bolger added: “Our young people love the Mass. They’re not trying to re-invent it. They’re seeing we can have different types of music. Our life as Catholics is rooted in the Mass. I hope they find joy and a true peace in doing God’s will. For some, that’s priestly or religious life, for others it’s marriage. I hope they remember our witness and we plant a seed that Christ causes to grow one day and to flourish into priestly and religious vocations.”

Our readers at The Catholic Review are pretty amazing. They’re everywhere and use their cameras to capture some touching, incredible moments. Last week’s ordination of transitional Deacon Warren Tanghe is a perfect example.
Kitt O’Brien and Carrie Joneckis, both of St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park, were snapping away and offered to share some of what they were able to get. Unfortunately, all the photos couldn’t get in the March 3 edition of the paper.
But, they’re embedded below in a video. Please enjoy and feel free to share your photos with me at

John Carroll wins, 57-45

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

The rise to the top is complete. John Carroll is headed to the Alhambra tournament in Cumberland to face the country’s best Catholic teams.

At the end of the the third quarter of the BCL Championship, John Carroll leads, 35-30. Can they hold on? Follow me on twitter @catholicreview