Houston, Texas- It’s been said that baseball is more than a game, it’s a religion. Now that the Houston Astros brought a World Series title home, we’re feeling extremely blessed here in Texas. It begs the question, could divine intervention have played a part in making it all possible? Well, with what’s going on at a church next to the ballpark, it just might be.
It took 55 years for Astros fans to relish in the sweet taste of the title. All it took was a little faith which is something you can find plenty of across the street from the stadium at the Annunciation Catholic Church.
“We’re pulling for them over here,” Father Paul Felix said.
Father Paul Felix was born and raised in Houston.
“I know I’m a bit biased, but I love Houston,” Father Paul said. “I love Texas. On top of that, I have a double blessing because my parents were married here at Annunciation.”
Back in 2000, the Houston Astros moved in next door to the church. The former Union Station train station served as the perfect place for a downtown baseball stadium.
”Well, we keep praying for them,” Father Paul said. “I’m glad we’re neighbors, you know, because it gives us an opportunity to encounter people, and of course we’re in favor of our home team!”
While the Astros are fairly new on the block, the Church of the Annunciation has been here for a long time.
“Our church has the distinction of being the oldest church in continuous use of any faith in Houston,” Father Paul said.
The cornerstone of the church was blessed and built upon in 1869, just four years after the end of the civil war. Over the years, the faithful have been drawn to this place to pray, reflect and feel closer to God.
“When people come into this church, they will walk in and stand at the center aisle and just kind of gasp or sigh with a sense of the beauty and the sacredness here,” Father Paul said.“I can’t find words to describe how uplifting, how beautiful and transcendent that is. It really draws you upward and increases your attentiveness and awareness of the presence of God here.”
For nearly 150 years, the church has been the cornerstone for the area, but now baseball is bringing folks to the church on both Sundays and game days.
“You can see the candles. People come and light candles for all kinds of needs, including for baseball players and baseball games and so forth,” Father Paul said.
With the team bringing in the masses so close to mass, the church started to find more ways to get the believers in baseball on in for a blessing.
“I have a banner outside on the street corner that says, ‘Make it a spiritual double header. Catch mass and the game,’” Father Paul said.
Elsie Hernandez is the director of development for the church, and she had another idea to get faithful fans flocking over to the faith.
“ …….we thought, ‘We’ll make rosaries in the colors of the Astros,’” Elsie said.
The creation and selling of the rosaries began the same year that the Astro’s snatched the World Series Title.
“It was like the more we sold, the better the Astros did,” Elsie said. “We’re not superstitious, however it seemed as if … well, it was true. If we sold out, the Astros would win. “
Herlinda Partiva is one of the parishioners that helps build the beads of belief one rosary at a time.
“The Astro colors are orange, blue, white … now gold,” Herlinda said. “For the World Series, yes. I’m shocked. I’m amazed. I’ve been blessed, because I helped. I’ve been a part of it. I cry all the time. I cry all the time. Because it’s a beautiful thing. “
The rosaries have become so popular that they’ve made it all the way Rome. The Pope himself pulled for the home team both here in Houston and in Heaven. The rosaries are more than just a novelty to cheer on the baseball team, they’ve brought a sense of joy, a guiding light and a feeling of divine intervention.
“Some might think of it as sort of good luck charms and so forth, but really the deeper message is it’s not a good luck charm,” Father Paul said. “It’s an instrument for prayer. What we wanted to do is raise awareness that prayer and faith is appropriate in every circumstance. It helps us to be our better selves, and it helps us to keep our minds on loftier goals, and our ultimate fulfillment.”
While baseball has always been big on superstitions, the church has been powerful with prayer. It’s an opportunity to clear your thoughts, strengthen your soul and be part of the community that comes together for baseball and brothership.
“It’s beautiful to see how people can come together in this place and in this city and be able to show goodwill to one another,” Father Paul said. “That’s why coming here is so important for us. It’s not just about the material world, it’s about the kind of people we choose to be, and help each other to be … and of course, open ourselves to God’s help.”