St. Peter’s Vatican Cricket Team brings together Catholic priests and seminarians engaged in studies and pastoral activities in Rome, Italy. It is to be kept in mind that primarily the players are priests and seminarians who happened to play cricket. They are not professional cricket players who happened to be priests and seminarians. Hence, the primary goal of every player is to foster his priestly vocation. Therefore, the team has a priestly identity and pastoral commitment, and it is a great joy and honor to see our players advance in their priestly vocation physically and spiritually.
St. John Paul ii , in Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992), described the principal foundations for priestly formation as human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. Each area, while distinct in itself, is naturally linked to the others. The call to the ministerial priesthood is a gift from God to the Church. A person whom God calls discerns his vocation and responds with a personal commitment to it. Moreover, this call to ministerial priesthood can be accomplished and carried forth in varied ways. For us sports become a focal point to cherish our priestly vocation. This is where St. Peters Cricket team comes to the forefront to establish pastorally a connection with people of all spheres. Hence, our vision of touring different countries, yearly, has a multi-dimensional aspect: spiritual, human, and pastoral.
The Church is missionary by nature because our Lord Jesus Christ assigns each of us a mission: “go into the world and proclaim the good news to the entire creation (Mk 16:15). Therefore, we are called to proclaim His mission to all categories of people through our words and actions, without underlining the cast and creed. This is the threshold of every cricketing journey that we undertake to different countries each year.
This year we are having the “9th Light of Faith Tour to Spain.” I have been part of several tours in the past few years. All the tours I had been participating in, were enriching spiritually, pastorally, and athletically.
The Holy Eucharist safeguards the discipline and value of priestly formation. The ministerial priesthood is Eucharist-centred. The priestly formation is very well nourished by spiritual activities. Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. In each cricketing tour, we make sure that the spiritual activities are not neglected. Hence, each day begins with morning prayer, brief guided meditation, and Holy Eucharistic celebration. The spirit of prayer strengthens the vocation of the individuals. It promotes a special intimacy with Christ who calls the seminarians and priests to share in His divine mission and ministry. During the journey with a definite plan, we recite rosaries and other prayers that enrich our spiritual life. In the evenings, returning from the visit or game, we pray the evening prayer and thank the Lord for his abundant graces through night prayer.
Visiting the Poor and the Marginalized
St. Peter’s Cricket Club has the characteristic of engaging and spending time with the poor and the marginalized. In particular, while we were in Kenya, we spent a day with the children in the slums and taught them a few hymns and techniques of cricket. Another exciting experience was visiting an orphanage in Malta. We simply stayed with them, in friendship, fraternity, and sharing. Such visits really enriched our vision of the mission of evangelization and enhanced our priestly vocation. Our attitude as a priest shouldn’t be let people come to us, but let us go to the people to love, care, and serve.
Another experience I recall is a pastoral visit to an overcrowded hospital in Kenya. We got the opportunity to interact with people, both children and elderly, struggling on the sick bed. That was an eye-opener for each one of us as committed people to serve God and his people. The ministerial priesthood to which we are called is to serve the poor, homeless and suffering. Mother Teresa of Kolkata says, “not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” We also engaged in parish pastoral activities.
We also had opportunities to create an ecumenical togetherness and interreligious dialogue when we played cricket with brothers of other denominations and religions. Then there is the playing aspect, on the field, in the game. We are able to show our spiritual vigour and attitude with the teams with whom we play. Saint Peter’s Vatican Cricket Team tries to bring a difference in and out of the cricket field by our behaviour and sportsman spirit.
* Priest of the Catholic Eparchy of Bijnor, India — recently completed Doctorate in Canon Law for the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome; member of St. Peter’s Vatican Cricket Team
By Fr Jogy Kavungal*