Catholic Exchange’s First Film Debuts in Phoenix this Sunday

Major League Baseball is in the final stretch of its 2007 Spring Training season. As baseball fans get ready for Opening Day, Catholic Exchange travels to Phoenix this weekend for the World Premiere of its first film, Champions of Faith: Baseball. A stunning sports special which depicts America's favorite pastime as a metaphor for life, Champions of Faith: Baseball is Catholic Exchange's debut project for its new film and video division.

Major League Baseball champions Mike Piazza, David Eckstein, Jeff Suppan, Mike Sweeney, Jack McKeon and Rich Donnelly lead an All-Star line-up in this moving and uplifting 60-minute movie that tells the story of faith-in-baseball like no other film ever made.

Shot in breathtaking hi-definition video and set to a rousing musical score and soundtrack featuring Grammy-award winning band Third Day and legendary recording artist Bob Dylan, Champions of Faith: Baseball serves to humanize some of the most celebrated and accomplished ballplayers of our time and restore the "sports hero" to its proper place in American culture.

Featuring some two-dozen leading players, managers and coaches speaking frankly about family, sacrifice, leadership, humility, and the many virtues and spiritual lessons they have learned from the game, Champions of Faith: Baseball provides an emotionally powerful, action-packed glimpse into what makes a baseball player — and a human being — great.

When Catholic Exchange Today host John Morales presented the idea for Champions of Faith to Catholic Exchange's President Tom Allen back in 2005, a movement was born.  Tom Allen saw the great potential of the Champions of Faith concept, and worked with John Morales to realize its full potential as a film that can have broad appeal across the Christian world and out into the secular mainstream. "Making Champions of Faith has been one of the most challenging and exhilarating experiences of my life," says Allen who served as the film's producer and director. "It's my hope that the film touches every Christian household in America the way it has already touched mine."

The exclusive Sunday premiere in Phoenix will welcome many of the Major League Baseball stars featured in the film including All-Star Catcher and now Oakland A's designated hitter Mike Piazza, Kansas City Royals Captain Mike Sweeney and 2006 National League Championship Series MVP Jeff Suppan. Also on the guest list are the Bishop of Phoenix, Thomas J. Olmsted and Presidential hopeful, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

The Champions of Faith movement seeks to "showcase how the world of sports, despite the behavior of some, is still an environment of discipline, leadership, and virtue. In the model set forth by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2005, Champions of Faith endeavors 'to reclaim the ideal of sport as a real school of humanity, education and virtue.'"

Sports are the number one extracurricular activity among today's youth. Using sports as an evangelical and catechetical tool reaches people where they live. When men and boys in particular see Champions of Faith: Baseball, they will discover that their sports heroes give all the glory to God, that the Eucharist and Mass are central to their daily lives, even when they are on the road, and that their devotion to prayer makes them better athletes. For teachers, catechists and coaches, the format of the film lends itself easily to catechetical instruction helping to drive home critical teachings about the Catholic faith. Connecting five in-depth personal interviews are virtue segments such as leadership, perseverance, humility and prayer. During each segment, superstar athletes speak about how their faith has shaped their Major League baseball careers. 

Mike Sweeney, Captain of the Kansas City Royals speaks about being "a lamp plugged into the light socket of Christ" while Los Angeles Dodger Center-Fielder Juan Pierre describes how, for him, prayer changes everything and keeps him sane.

Mike Piazza reveals how he gets emotional over the Eucharist and Jeff Suppan eloquently describes how Christ wants to give Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament.

These true and faithful champions of baseball represent a side of professional sports that is rarely profiled in today's media. They are true heroes, worthy of our children's emulation and our own appreciation for sharing how success and wealth can be unfulfilling without a strong spiritual life.

Champions of Faith: Baseball will be available on DVD in April in both English and Spanish subtitle formats, just after Opening Day of the Major League Baseball Season. To order advance copies or to host an event in your area, please visit the Champions of Faith website. Champions of Faith will also have available promotional and catechetical materials to help you share this powerful tool with others. Consider purchasing copies for your school, parish, men's group, or youth group.  As a special incentive to get the film out to every Catholic home in the United States and Latin America, Catholic Exchange is offering a special fundraiser price for groups who wish to use this DVD to raise money for their church, school or organization.

For more information about this weekend's special premiere in Phoenix or any aspect of the Champions of Faith project, please call The Maximus Group at 678.990.9032.

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