Washington Post.com – Fans who stream into the Navy Yard district before Nats games are now greeted with increasingly varied entertainment choices, from Yards Park for fresh air and views of the Anacostia River to the Fairgrounds for frat-rock music and adult refreshments to a variety of neighborhood restaurants and taverns, with more to come.
On Sunday afternoons this summer, they’ve had another option: a Catholic church service. Or, as the local St. Vincent de Paul church calls it, “Nats Mass.”
“For me, it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Rev. Andrew Royals, 34, a Montgomery County native who became the pastor at the South Capitol Street church about two years ago. “On game days we had thousands of people walking right in front of our church. I was like, ‘Well, I’m sure some of these people would like to go to church.’…And we thought there’s no reason people can’t do both.”
And thus, Nats Mass was launched in May, a noon service that runs about 40 or 45 minutes, getting attendees out the door in plenty of time for a 1:35 first pitch.
The first session, a trial run that wasn’t publicized, attracted a crowd of five. But then the church – which is located at the corner of South Capitol and M streets – put up a sign touting the Nats Mass service. It publicized the service on Facebook. It used the #NatsMass hashtag on Twitter. And the crowd has grown at each successive mass.
Royals is expecting between 75 and 100 people for Sunday’s service, the seventh of nine scheduled Nats masses this season. By next season, he hopes to reach the church’s capacity, which is about 150. The church has long held an 8 a.m. Sunday mass for regular parishioners, and it recently added a Sunday evening mass for the younger demographic, but Royals expects that Nats Mass will eventually be the parish’s biggest event of the week.
“We’re shattering attendance records each Sunday,” he said. “That’s what gives me hope. I’m pretty sure at some point I’m going to start mass one Sunday, and I’m going to look out and see a church filled with Nats fans.”
I figured I should take at least a one-post break from continually singing the Nats’ praises (or as my non-Nats fan friends would say, gargling their scrotum), although the team is worthy of every bit of it. As a raised Catholic who hasn’t quite made it to mass or confession as much as the big man upstairs would like, I love this “Nats Mass”. Absolutely love it.
Is it a coincidence that since #NatsMass started gaining popularity, the Nats have been hotter than the burning bush on their way to the best 2-week run in franchise history? Maybe, maybe not. Call it religion, call it superstition, call it stupidity but this #NatsMass can never be shut down, ever. St. Vincent DePaul Church and Fr. Royals, keep doing you. Ever seen Angels in the Outfield? Maybe that shit was real. Maybe Bryce just needed a little divine intervention to get his bat back on track. That 6-run, 8-hit inning had the feeling of a miracle yesterday. Not to mention, Jayson Werth is basically a Jesus look-a-like in right field.
It’s no secret that the Nats’ fan base does not have the most street cred. I admit it, and I don’t even resent it. I like that we have nerdy white old people that love the Nats. We’re the good guys. You can’t hate us. It’s like hating your aunt and uncle that always give you $100 for your birthday with a nice thoughtful card, only we’re even more clutch than that. The only guy people try and hate is Bryce, and for stupid shit like rubbing his foot on your logo. And now that we have God on our side, all the more reason to back the Nats. Heading all the way to the World Series with the Lord in our corner. You think there’s a big group of Dodgers fans that congregate and say a bunch of Our Fathers before their day games? I sincerely doubt that. Probably why the Redskins are gonna suck again this year too (Fucking Snyder).
Does this mean I’m going to be in attendance at St. Vinny’s the next Sunday home game that comes up on the schedule? Absolutely not. I’ll be at the Bullpen/Red Porch slugging down $7/$9 beers trying to kill a vicious hangover. Paying tribute to Jesus turning water into wine at the Wedding at Cana. But it’s good to know that some of my Catholic brethren are bringing good old JC into the fold here and making every effort they can while we heathens demonstrate the 7 deadly sins on a daily basis.
P.S best team in baseball.