Ten years ago, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti was talking to the Catholic chaplain for the Washington Nationals before Mass. The priest was talking about how he needed to find a replacement chaplain because he was too busy. Msgr. Rosssetti — who at that time attended games at RFK Stadium whenever he could — says he “jumped at the chance.”
As Catholic chaplain for the Nationals, Msgr. Rossetti, a research professor in pastoral studies, celebrates Mass for the players, coaches and staff on Sundays when they are home. He has two priests who work with him, Father Andrew Fisher, pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Annandale, and Father Quinn Conners, O.Carm., a part-time faculty member in the School of Theology and Religious Studies.In addition to Mass, Msgr. Rossetti answers the call for other spiritual and sacramental needs.
“I have baptized their babies, done marriage prep, and helped them with other sacramental issues,” he says. “At the Mass, both teams are invited as well as any staff and coaches. It is a nice time when both teams can gather together before a game and pray together. When Mass is over, I notice how good the opposing teams are to each other, shaking hands and welcoming. It’s a nice witness of unity and mutual respect and esteem.”
As chaplain, he is also a source for many blessings. He has blessed bats, players with injuries, and those “just asking for God’s strength.” Msgr. Rossetti (who recently published a book on priestly blessings) says that as a priest, he tries to “bring the church to those that don’t go to church anymore. To my surprise, almost all the players, Catholic and otherwise, are grateful and even seek out a blessing. It’s a beautiful moment which occurs often and I encourage priests everywhere to be generous in blessing people.”
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