Marlins Park opened to a game between Miami’s most prominent Catholic boys high schools, Columbus and Belen on Monday night. Archbishop Thomas Wenski threw out the first pitch. The crowd consisted mostly of Catholic high school parents who have spent the better part of the last decade contributing to building funds which rarely produce actual buildings. Yet there we were, in a new stadium built over our old stadium located in the type of a neighborhood first generation Cuban exiles worked hard to leave behind. That was good.
Much was left behind. The type of things that couldn’t move. Churches, schools, cheap housing and one stadium. The mobility of second generation Cuban exiles was much appreciated by those who followed from Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela etc. Turns out they wanted and needed our Little Havana neighborhood. That was good. So was that one stadium.
The Orange Bowl was like some magical yearbook whose last page you never thought to imagine. Its history seemed to be the Miami’s history, mainly in sports, but also in music and politics. The new stadium would have been a hit anywhere it was built. But because it was built on the site of the Orange Bowl, it feels like more of a restoration. The transition from football to baseball almost incidental. That is good.
In standing on the mound for the first pitch, if Archbishop Wenski had turned towards first base, he would be about two miles away from another historic restoration of a Miami institution, Miami Senior High. That school, my high school, is one of the rare places in Miami which preceded even the Orange Bowl. When that restoration is complete sometime next year, that will be good.
If Archbishop Wenski had turned and faced center field, he could actually see the golden dome on top of one of the churches he leads which is about a half mile away. St John Bosco Catholic Church, my Parish, has in the last few years undergone its own restoration. While the old St John Bosco building was torn down and a beautiful new one erected fifty yards away, no one thinks of it as a new Parish for good reason.
G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy:
I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century. I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it. I did strain my voice with a painfully juvenile exaggeration in uttering my truths. And I was punished in the fittest and funniest way, for I have kept my truths: but I have discovered, not that they were not truths, but simply that they were not mine.
To all these places I’ve felt a tribal allegiance of varying degrees over the years. I have come in and out of their buildings with pride and affection. But when I reflect on their longevity, survival and now restoration, I am forced to acknowledge the missing link in my ‘truths.’ My fellow Miamians. There would be nothing to call ‘mine’ without those who preceded and proceed me in all these places. The ones who surrounded me last night. People with whom I gladly go, adelante!