By Father Chris Ballard

Contributing writer

   SYRACUSE — The Padres took on the St. James Chargers in the annual Men In Black softball game Aug. 7 at Meachem Field in Syracuse’s Valley neighborhood. The Padres — made up of clergy and seminarians of the diocese — jumped out to an early 5-0 lead thanks in part to a pair of RBI’s off the bat of Father Chris Celentano, pastor of Divine Mercy in Central Square. A bases-clearing double in the bottom of the fourth by St. James’ Ian Freezman opened the door for the Chargers and they would eventually tie the game at 5. The Padres failed to score in the top of the sixth. In the bottom half of the inning, with the bases loaded, up came Nick Morris, fresh from World Youth Day in Poland. Morris dunked a base hit into left-center field to give the Chargers the 6-5 walk-off win, snapping the Padres’ undefeated streak.

   Besides the excitement on the field, there was plenty for the fans to enjoy. Volunteers from St. James served classic ballpark concessions, and youth in the crowd were excited to participate in a dizzy bat race, a water balloon toss, and a costume race. Fans came from all over the diocese and enjoyed the opportunity to cheer for their priests and seminarians.

   The annual event is not only a fun night out for the family, but also a special way to support and raise awareness of vocations. If you or someone you know is interested in discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life, contact Father Joe O’Connor in the diocesan Office of Vocation Promotion at
(315) 470-1468 or

   Father Chris Ballard is pastor of
St. James Church in Syracuse.

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