By: Jack Cushing, AFTDJ Volunteer

Father Peter and the team at A Faith that Does Justice had the opportunity to join Red Sox Hall of Famer Joe Castiglione for a night at the ballpark on Friday, July 28 to see the Worcester Red Sox take on the Rochester Red Wings. Castiglione, the 41-year radio voice of the Red Sox, had hosted a banquet for the WooSox Foundation this past December. In return, the WooSox offered to make a donation to a charity of his choice, and Joe asked that those funds be split between The Jimmy Fund and A Faith That Does Justice. The occasion was celebrated in an on-field ceremony before the game, and Fr. Peter and company were invited to participate in the festivities.

Joe first met Father Peter in 2018. The normal mass he attends at Fenway Park happened to be cancelled, so he made his way over to Saint Cecilia Parish, where Peter was presiding over Mass. The message of the homily resonated with Joe; he raved about its focus on current events and the role that people of faith must play in responding to society’s most pertinent and pressing challenges. Soon after, Joe came back with his wife, Jan, and they began to immerse themselves in the St. Cecilia’s community. In one of his books, “Can You Believe It?,” Joe describes their consistent habit of attending Sunday Mass together over the years in the midst of his demanding summer travel schedule. Even as lifelong churchgoers, the couple found new inspiration in Peter’s message of putting faith into action. The Castigliones kept the habit of attending St. Cecilia’s – when the Covid-19 pandemic left churches and ballparks across America empty, Joe and Jan started a weekly habit of attending the parish’s weekly livestream of Sunday Mass, enjoying sermons from both Father Peter and St. C’s pastor, Father John Unni.

The “A Faith that Does Justice” team was fortunate enough to enjoy the game alongside Joe, Jan, their three children, their six grandchildren, and their friends as guests of Dr. Charles Steinberg, the President of the WooSox. As fellow physicians, Fr. Peter and Dr. Charles had the opportunity to share experiences on their work in the medical space and charitable projects.

“I see baseball and ballparks as platforms for responding to social justice challenges and building community” Steinberg told Father Peter.

He discussed the WooSox foundation’s project offering college scholarships to middle school and early high school students who may be vulnerable to drug dealing. By reaching adolescents early with the promise of a financial future, Dr. Steinberg and his team have shown that young people will refrain from joining the drug trade for money. Fr. Peter and the team were grateful that the Foundation recognized their similar work dedicating time, resources, and gifts to serve the most marginalized and vulnerable in our society.

The volunteers shared several other fun memories throughout the night. Joe and Jan recounted their recent trip to Selma, Alabama to visit one of the famous sites of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for Civil Rights. The volunteers who attended Boston College shared experiences with Castiglione’s daughter Kate and former Red Sox Manager Joe Morgan, both fellow Eagles. And Red Sox shortstop Trevor Story, in the middle of his rehab assignment, gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a first inning Home Run over the left field wall.

Since moving to Worcester several years ago, the WooSox have lived up to Dr. Charles’ vision by bringing economic development, entertainment, and a new community forum to the city. The AFTDJ team was grateful for this opportunity to join the community for a night, and the Public Address Announcer thanked Fr. Peter and reminded the crowd of just how important his work is.

Joe and Jan still listen to the St. Cecilia’s homilies on a weekly basis. Even if Joe is on the road with the Sox, he’ll take the time to watch the sermon and call Jan so they can share thoughts on the weekly message. In the introduction to Castiglione’s book, one colleague noted that “Joe is not just a person I worked with; Joe’s a friend.” In describing her family’s connection with A Faith That Does Justice, Jan mentioned how meaningful it is to get a handwritten note from Fr. Peter after every donation. Her favorite moments in 41-years with the Red Sox have come when the team has emphasized community fellowship and events. In these past several years, the Castiglione’s have found new communities of welcoming and inclusion, and the AFTDJ team appreciates being thought of as friends during this time of celebration.