by | Nov 8, 2012 | Uncategorized

Phillies by dameetch via Flickr.

If you’re jonesing for a little more baseball as this season comes to a close, you may want to go over to our friends at Catholic Relief Services. Their new website – Faithworks – provides us with some winterball and off-season workouts for those who thrive on both the faith and America’s Pastime.

You would get a chance to meet Justin DeFratus, a relief pitcher for the losingest awesomest team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. A cradle Catholic, DeFratus found it difficult to reconcile the problem of evil with an all-loving, all-powerful God.

Justin was raised in a big Catholic family, went to Catholic school, and he served as an altar boy in the parish where his grandmother worked. He excelled in Catechism classes and always knew the right answers about his Church until his junior year at Rio Mesa High School. “I remember, being in high school, being asked the question: If God is so good, and all powerful, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?  And I couldn’t answer the question at the time.”

DeFratus’s story of being re-acquainted with and strengthened by the faith sounds a bit familiar to St. Ignatius Loyola’s. For archival video evidence of Loyola’s battle injury, see below:

Both men were excellent athletes, both men got injured, and both men had a lot of time on their hands to think and pray while they recuperated. Both men began to put their life in proper perspective, pondering the biggest question, “Why am I here?”

In January, just four months after appearing in his first big league game, Justin strained his pitching arm, leaving him with a lot of free time.  He took his time off to read, study and explore his faith knowing that when the season began and he was healthy that he wouldn’t be able to dedicate nearly as much time to learning about Catholicism.

Yet in the busyness of shifting from the minors to the majors over a six month period, DeFratus put all that learning into practice. He’s able to attend Sunday Mass regularly and frequently answers teammates’ questions about the faith in the clubhouse. Through his own desolate times of doubt and pain, he was able to find a God who reassured and healed.

For more great stories on the interplay of faith and baseball, go to


Vinny Marchionni, SJ   /   All posts by Vinny