Knights of Columbus will sponsor annual game to raise funds for vocations
LINCOLN (SNR) – The fourth annual I-80 Collar Series, a softball game between the priests of the Diocese of Lincoln and the priests of the Archdiocese of Omaha, will be held at Haymarket Park in Lincoln Fathers Day, June 17.
Richard Zierke of St. Patrick Parish in Lincoln is the coordinator. He heard at a Knights meeting last spring that the Collar Series, previously sponsored by Spirit Catholic Radio, might not be held in 2017, and rallied brother Knights to take on the project.
The first two Collar Series games drew crowds of 7-8,000 people, and raised more than $20,000 each year for the Omaha and Lincoln dioceses’ vocations offices. Last year’s event drew a crowd of 4,000 and raised more than $7,000 for each vocations office.
Zierke wasn’t surprised with the reduced turnout, since the change in sponsorship made advertising the game a bit late.
“I was very happy with the game,” Zierke said. “We only had a few weeks to put it together, and all who came had a great time. It was a very ‘Catholic’ event.”
Zierke said the Knights’ mission for hosting the game was accomplished when participants just walk in the gate.
“You see your priest, or a priest, on the ball diamond play baseball,” he said. “A lot of people will never see that. I want to give the priests and Catholics of Nebraska a chance to see this, for people to root priests on like they root us on in our daily life. To support them like they support us. Wow, this is a fun event!”
Father Andrew Roza, director of the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Omaha, agreed.
“The Collar series has been a beautiful way to help people enjoy a relaxed day with their priests and fellow Catholics,” he said. “It has been an especially good witness for young people who might not get the chance to see priests in such a relaxed setting.”
Officials at Haymarket Park were also impressed with the event. In the post-game recap with the Knights who worked at the game, Zierke said, the park staff told them they hoped the event would come back, and called the crowd the best they’d ever worked with.
Sponsors interested in helping defer the cost of the event may contact Zierke at 402-570-6190.