The following comes from a story by Denis Grasska in the current issue of the Southern Cross, the San Diego diocese paper.

For 22 years, Dan Cassidy has dreamed of founding a Catholic baseball team.

He envisioned a team that would travel the world, playing games against professional sports organizations and sharing the Catholic faith at every opportunity.

Today, that dream has come true: Cassidy, a former minor-leaguer who coaches baseball at St. Katherine’s College in Encinitas and has his own physical therapy practice, is the founder of the Catholics in Action sports ministry.

“The Lord unfolded this plan and I never lost the desire to do it,” said Cassidy, a member of Queen of Angels Parish in Alpine. “But I realize now, looking back, how I had to be formed. I had to be formed in the Catholic faith … and I had to be formed as a coach.”

Over the past two decades, he has studied theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and amassed 12 years of coaching experience.

Cassidy’s vision for “the Catholic Church’s first international evangelical baseball team” was inspired by his experience with Athletes in Action, a sports ministry that is part of Cru (formerly called Campus Crusade for Christ). In 1991, he traveled with Athletes in Action to various Latin American countries. There, as the only Catholic member of a Christian baseball team, he and his teammates competed against national teams.

“I learned from the Protestants how to evangelize,” he said. “I know how to do this for our [Catholic] faith, I know what needs to be done, and I’m going to train these guys” — the 23 ballplayers currently on his team roster — “to be lay missionaries.”

Catholics in Action was officially recognized last March as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Its baseball team is named the Missionary Knights. The team, which is composed of college ballplayers as well as one minor-leaguer and a former major-leaguer, is scheduled to play 12 games in the Alaska Baseball League in June and compete in the annual Midnight Sun Game, which will be held June 21 in Fairbanks, Alaska. They will then embark on an international tour that will pit them against the Italian Professional Baseball League, the German National Team and the Croatian National Team. The tour will conclude with a visit to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the site of alleged Marian apparitions since 1981. (The Vatican has yet to issue a ruling on their authenticity.)…

A fundraiser for Catholics in Action will be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 5, at St. Brigid Parish in Pacific Beach.

For more information about Catholics in Action or to support the sports ministry, visit www.catholicsinaction.com, or contact Cassidy at (858) 735-8606 or [email protected]tion.com.

To read the entire story, click here.