Saturday, June 11, 2011

Taking the Mound: A Phightin' Nun

Amid a bit of quiet before the "Showtime" tumult, while prepping a coming post these last few days, this scribe wrote of his hometown that "whether you're talking John Neumann or Frank Rizzo, Pat Ciarrocchi or Mary Scullion; Goretti, Hawk Hill, Nazareth Hospital or high-school football, the Catholic presence in Philadelphia doesn't simply pervade this place, but has come to decisively shape every aspect of its secular life, bar none."

No sooner did the words take form when further proof of the thought emerged, in an especially sweet way.

Pentecost might be upon us, but the feast's color has been especially prevalent around town throughout the year in recent times. For the losingest franchise in the history of professional sport in a town that's long felt down on its luck, a "Golden Age" of baseball capped with Four Aces, four pennants and a World Championship can do that for you.

With liturgical timing as perfect as it was likely unintended, though, one of this local church's finest is about to get a big turn in the lights... albeit one that calls less for receiving fire than throwing heat.

Just around 4pm Eastern, the first pitch at today's nationally-televised Phils-Cubs game will be tossed by Sister Jeannette Lucey, a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary currently serving as director of development at St Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia -- once one of the city's dominant parishes (with a monumental church to prove it), its neighborhood fallen on hard times over recent decades.

Previously cited for her efforts to teach peace, the Starting Sister's spent the last few weeks training for something rather different before the 170th straight sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park, with the DeSales student body (and her 92 year-old Mom) looking on. And as the big day approached, with some help from former Phils reliever Ricky Bottalico, Lucey's prep for taking the hill made last night's Post-Game show... and it's a classic:

Go Sister and, as ever, Go Phils.... and in these days of anticipation for the signing of #9, Harry (and outfield), tell the church what we've all got:

Lastly, it's worth noting that the IHMs don't just take eagerly to the diamond -- the story of NCAA basketball's first womens' dynasty, who hailed from the community's college based at its motherhouse, Mighty Macs hits theaters nationwide in October.