NEWTOWN, Conn. -- St. Rose of Lima Church and U.S. Cellular Field are separated by four states and 850 miles. One sits on a winding road in the type of quaint New England town where a bake sale typically qualifies as news. The other rests in a section of Chicago that was gritty enough to be immortalized in a Jim Croce song.
On a bitterly cold and blindingly sunny day in Newtown, Conn., the two venues are tethered by human suffering, the challenge of moving beyond tragedy through compassion, and the efforts of a young big league pitcher to bridge the gap between the two.
At one end of the chain, 360 schoolchildren from kindergarten through eighth grade celebrate their regular weekday mass at St. Rose before learning that a treat is in store: Monsignor Robert Weiss, more commonly known as "Father Bob,'' tells them that a major league baseball player is coming to tell his story and share lessons about his life struggles and persistence in pursuing his dream.