By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Father Sean P. Bransfield is arguably one of the most ardent Phillies fans among the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s priests.
The day after his beloved baseball team captured the World Series crown, he was beaming. “It was one of the happiest nights of my life,” he said of the Phillies 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in the series’ fifth game Oct. 29 at home.
Father Bransfield, 35, is a judge in the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal and an assistant to Cardinal Justin Rigali.
A partial season ticket holder, Father Bransfield watched the series’ clincher on television with priest friends at Cardinal Justin Rigali’s residence, where he lives.
Although the Cardinal was in Rome at the time, he telephoned his congratulations to Father Bransfield the following day. “I was very happy about that,” Father Bransfield said. “The Cardinal is learning more about baseball through me. He enjoys that I enjoy it so much.”
Father Bransfield was raised in St. John the Baptist Parish in Philadelphia. A 1987 alumnus of St. John the Baptist School, he graduated from Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia in 1991.
He played Little League baseball – mostly center field – in the Roxborough section of the city from age 8 to 16, then coached Little League five years.
He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood in 1994 and was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2002. His first assignment was parochial vicar at St. Jude Parish in Chalfont.
For years Father Bransfield’s refrain has been, “the Phils are going to win the World Series this year.”
“In the Seminary,” he said, “I was known for that. Every year, my phrase was, ‘World Series, baby.’ And every year, people just laughed at me.”
Throughout baseball season, he watches every game his schedule will allow. If he can’t attend a game or watch on television, Father Bransfield will tune in to the radio broadcast.
“I look at the sports page in December looking for Phillies news. The other sports are nice, but I’m just all for the Phillies.”
At the heart of Father Bransfield’s love for baseball is the strategy of the sport, he said. “And unlike so many of the other sports, there’s no time clock. You have to play well until the very end. Theoretically, a baseball game could go on forever. I love that aspect.”
The camaraderie and civic-mindedness that baseball builds among fans is another thrill, he said. “All the joy and happiness that comes from this championship is just a reflection of the deep joy, happiness and communion that God wants us all to share with each other in heaven and here on earth.”
The son of Vincent and Mary Bransfield, Father Bransfield attended game four of the World Series with his father. They sat nine rows behind the right-field fence. “The guy three rows directly behind us caught Ryan Howard’s homerun in the eighth inning,” Father Bransfield said.
From September 2005 through this past June, Father Bransfield was stationed in Rome, where as a student priest at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he received his J.C.L.
He believes the timing of his assignment change, which allowed him to be home for the World Series, was providential.
After the Phillies won, several of Father Bransfield’s priest friends and former professors in Rome e-mailed him their congratulations. “One priest said it was thundering and lightning in Rome and that it must have been me, making so much noise.”
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.