The sign at the entrance to the baseball field at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Crestwood notes that the field, also used for soccer and lacrosse, is the home of the Mary Queen of Peace Eagles.
The neighboring parish in Webster Groves erected the sign along with a maintenance shed and covered dugouts. The parishioners are thankful for the opportunity to have their own field after years of fighting for space at area parks. They take pride in the field and identify and call themselves a “field maintenance ministry.”
It’s an example of parish-to-parish cooperation.
When St. Elizabeth’s school closed in 2004, it no longer was using the field.
Mary Queen of Peace Church “doesn’t have a blade of grass,” said parishioner and field maintenance ministry member Tom Albus. “All we have is a parking lot.”
In 2011, Albus’ parish began leasing the field at St. Elizabeth. The field hadn’t been cared for in years, “and I didn’t have any idea what was involved” in restoring it, he said.
Volunteers graded the field to make it level and hauled in infield dirt that dries quickly after a rain. The grassy areas are fertilized and aerated and kept green with a sprinkler system. “I wish my lawn looked half as good as this grass,” Albus said.
Every year the parish has a field day when volunteers do general clean-up and larger projects.
Jim Heisner, a veteran of 30 years of umpiring with the Catholic Youth Apostolate’s CYC sports program and a St. Martin of Tours parishioner, officiated at a playoff baseball game at the field July 10 between St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Mary Queen of Peace’s seventh-graders. Afterward, Heisner said the ministry’s hard work is evident. “The field looks beautiful,” he said, noting the care that’s taken in lining the batter’s box and baselines with chalk and the ability of the parishioners to get the field playable after a rain.
Albus, who grew up in Mary Queen of Peace Parish, cited the stewardship opportunities the field provides. “It’s such a great asset. The kids can be officials and help take care of the field. It’s been a point of pride for our parish, a great point of togetherness for St. Elizabeth and our parishioners.”
On some days, more than 300 children may use the field, Albus said. As many as 60 people have showed up on the field work day such as the year when volunteers moved a playground to a spot near where parents gather to watch games.
He stressed the ministry aspect. “Everybody pitches in and is responsible — they’ll pick up trash, grab a rake to prepare for the game or do whatever’s needed.”
Tom Grassi was on the baseball committee when the proposal first came to Mary Queen of Peace to rent the field. “It’s been a good coming together of two parishes and pretty quickly was a win-win,” Grassi said. “We improved the facility, take care of it and give them some income.”
Jim O’Keefe, another field ministry member, cited the parish community’s effort in transforming the field and in maintaining it. The field is used all year except for three winter months, he said. He has four boys who’ve played on the field, with the youngest in seventh grade.
The men in the field maintenance ministry gave a shout-out to their wives for their efforts in filling in for them at home at times when they’re involved with work on the fields.
A second home
Brian Grassi, a recent De Smet Jesuit High School graduate, played on the field for many years and then, in eighth grade, began umpiring and helping with the maintenance. “I’ve been coming up here so long it has become a sort-of second home for me,” he said.
His brother, Andrew Grassi, a sophomore at De Smet, said it has been a good opportunity for work experience and for knowing that he’s helped the community. “I have a lot of appreciation for the volunteers. It’s hard work, and to do it by yourself would be even harder,” he said.
Pat Moore, South Central sports chairperson for the CYC and a parishioner at St. Peter in Kirkwood, noted that “you can see the pride they take in the field.”
Moore grew up playing ball for St. Margaret of Scotland at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, “and it was not this nice,” she said. “They’re really committed to the kids of Mary Queen of Peace and have created a nice baseball/softball community here. They get kids that come up here just to hang out, which is what you want to achieve.”
>> Purpose of athletics
The athletic association at Mary Queen of
Peace Parish administers both the operations and funding of parish youth
athletics — soccer, baseball/softball, track and field for grades
kindergarten-8 and basketball, volleyball and golf for grades 3-8.
statement by the association notes that its purpose is to “provide an
opportunity to teach our children self-discipline, teamwork,
sportsmanship, camaraderie, a sense of fair play, respect for
themselves, their teammates and their opponents. Most importantly to
teach our children the Christian values that are the foundation of our
A sign at the entrance to the baseball field at St.
Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Crestwood, home field for Mary Queen of
Peace athletics, welcomes visitors, thanks them for supporting teams and
officials and reminds them that the games stress fun, learning and
The teams play in the South Central District of the
Archdiocesan CYC Athletic Program. The mission of the Catholic Youth
Apostolate program is to help all young people hear and actively respond
to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and enthusiastically participate
in the life and mission of Jesus Christ and His Church.