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Long Island Bishop likens Catholic Church to 1969 Mets: “Ya gotta believe”

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Bishop John O. Barres suggests the “Miracle Mets” could be just the faith model that the Catholic Church needs.

This year saw New York celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic World Series run that led to the Mets’ first championship and earned them the title “Miracle Mets.” Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre wrote a pastoral letter marking the occasion, in which he compared the Catholic Church to the famed baseball team.

In the 8-page pastoral letter, which contained numerous photographs from the 1969 World Series, Bishop Barres suggested that the Catholic Church adopt the Miracle Mets’ slogan, “Ya gotta believe.” He wrote:

“In short, Ya gotta truly believe and deeply believe in what we believe as Catholics. While we acknowledge realistically the challenges of a culture that is becoming increasingly unfriendly to religious views as well as all the challenges of the times, we also acknowledge that to give up on dramatic missionary growth is to forget the power of God at work in our hearts and in the world around us.”

Bishop Barres noted that the 1969 Mets were a very young team full of untested players who, although many would go on to become Hall-of-Famers, were not filled with confidence at the start of the season. In fact, he mentions that the team had no expectations of a playoff run at the beginning of the season.

However, their belief was sparked by an idle comment from catcher Jerry Grote, one of the few veterans on the team, in which he suggested they could “win the whole thing.” This belief spurred them forward to a 10-win season that put them at the top of their division and on the fast track to the World Series.

Although they proved themselves in the regular season, they were still considered the underdogs against the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs. The Mets fought the Braves off, sweeping the series with three consecutive wins. As they entered the World Series, they were still considered the underdogs against the Baltimore Orioles, and after they lost the first game, the need for belief was never more urgent. The Mets, however, did not lose their faith, and won the next four games to secure the championship.

Bishop Barres suggests that this story, although it took place before the living memory of the younger generation, can act as a faith model for Catholics. He writes that the “Ya gotta believe” attitude can “connect with our young people and with Catholics who have been away from the Church for a while and yet who could feel re-energized by a fresh approach to evangelization.”

The New York prelate suggested that, like the Mets’ unexpected playoff run, no one is predicting that the Catholic Church could have a comeback:

“But it is possible with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us and each one of us responding to our baptismal call to courageous holiness and mission. We gotta believe!”

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