Liam Hennelly takes God on the field when playing baseball for Shore Regional

May 23, 2024 at 5:13 p.m.
Sophomore Liam Hennelly proudly offers his time and talent as altar server in Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, as well as on the varsity baseball team for Shore Regional High, West Long Branch. Courtesy photos
Sophomore Liam Hennelly proudly offers his time and talent as altar server in Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, as well as on the varsity baseball team for Shore Regional High, West Long Branch. Courtesy photos

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

Liam Hennelly’s mom has the perfect description of her son when he’s striding to home plate ready to face a pitcher.

“He’s very proud of being Catholic,” said Eileen Hennelly. “Before he gets up to bat, he’s making the Sign of the Cross, he wears Phil 4:13 on his helmet, he has eye black that says the same thing. He’s very open about it,” she said, referring to the Phillippians 4:13 Scripture passage: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It is his faith in Christ and strong work ethic that Hennelly believes have led him to make the Shore Regional High, West Long Branch, varsity baseball team as a sophomore. He and the Blue Devils opened the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 1 Tournament May 23 as the second seed and played 15th-seeded Keyport.

Hennelly plays second base or left field, depending on who’s pitching for Shore. Entering the Keyport game, he was hitting .257. He led the team with eight stolen bases and was tied for second in walks (12), doubles (5) and runs scored (15).

During Blue Devils games, Hennelly has his own personal rooting section consisting of staff and parishioners from Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, where Hennelly is an altar server.

“We’re just really impressed with him because the kid is like a role model,” said Joseph Perri, who often serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at the same Mass with Hennelly. “There’s a handful of high school kids there and Liam is always the one up at the altar. I think it’s really neat, the kids who are watching have a role model. They can say ‘Wow, he’s a really good baseball player, that’s pretty cool he’s up there every week,’ and he makes no apologies for it.”


Liam Hennelly sits with an Irish wolfhound at the monument to the Irish brigade, the 69th New York Regiment, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Courtesy photo

He does, in fact, embrace his faith.

“Faith is everything,” Hennelly said. “It’s very important to our whole family and it’s just very important to me. It became important as I’ve gotten older. When you’re little you don’t really get stuff, but as soon as you start to learn and start to listen during Mass you start knowing more.”

Eileen Hennelly said that her son has always “been very into the Catholic faith, he never gave me a hard time about Church, even when he was younger. In fifth grade he signed up to be the altar server right away.”

In discussing his role as altar server, Henelly said, “It’s just expressing my faith in Jesus and helping out. I’ll do anything to help out the Church.”

He will also do anything to help his team win, using a scrappy style of play to gain the advantage. Hennelly was not surprised to start on varsity so young, saying, “I knew all the hard work I put in would prevail.”

When he takes the field along with his eight teammates, Liam has two others providing support.

“I have God and Jesus on my side,” he said. “Having that faith takes the fear out of the game. I just have no fear out there.”

What he does have is a burning desire to win. And yet he understands that losing is also part of God’s plan.

“He’s like, ‘Whatever happens its glory to God, and this is just a game, and He is so much bigger than life. God’s given me this to enjoy myself and to have fun,’” Eileen said. “If he has a strikeout or a bad game, it’s not the end of the world.”

While Hennelly would never label himself a shining example to others his age, he does like the fact that Perri feels he could have an impact.

“That would be cool to be a role model,” Liam said. “To show you could do both – play baseball and also serve for Jesus.”

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Liam Hennelly’s mom has the perfect description of her son when he’s striding to home plate ready to face a pitcher.

“He’s very proud of being Catholic,” said Eileen Hennelly. “Before he gets up to bat, he’s making the Sign of the Cross, he wears Phil 4:13 on his helmet, he has eye black that says the same thing. He’s very open about it,” she said, referring to the Phillippians 4:13 Scripture passage: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It is his faith in Christ and strong work ethic that Hennelly believes have led him to make the Shore Regional High, West Long Branch, varsity baseball team as a sophomore. He and the Blue Devils opened the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 1 Tournament May 23 as the second seed and played 15th-seeded Keyport.

Hennelly plays second base or left field, depending on who’s pitching for Shore. Entering the Keyport game, he was hitting .257. He led the team with eight stolen bases and was tied for second in walks (12), doubles (5) and runs scored (15).

During Blue Devils games, Hennelly has his own personal rooting section consisting of staff and parishioners from Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, where Hennelly is an altar server.

“We’re just really impressed with him because the kid is like a role model,” said Joseph Perri, who often serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at the same Mass with Hennelly. “There’s a handful of high school kids there and Liam is always the one up at the altar. I think it’s really neat, the kids who are watching have a role model. They can say ‘Wow, he’s a really good baseball player, that’s pretty cool he’s up there every week,’ and he makes no apologies for it.”


Liam Hennelly sits with an Irish wolfhound at the monument to the Irish brigade, the 69th New York Regiment, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Courtesy photo

He does, in fact, embrace his faith.

“Faith is everything,” Hennelly said. “It’s very important to our whole family and it’s just very important to me. It became important as I’ve gotten older. When you’re little you don’t really get stuff, but as soon as you start to learn and start to listen during Mass you start knowing more.”

Eileen Hennelly said that her son has always “been very into the Catholic faith, he never gave me a hard time about Church, even when he was younger. In fifth grade he signed up to be the altar server right away.”

In discussing his role as altar server, Henelly said, “It’s just expressing my faith in Jesus and helping out. I’ll do anything to help out the Church.”

He will also do anything to help his team win, using a scrappy style of play to gain the advantage. Hennelly was not surprised to start on varsity so young, saying, “I knew all the hard work I put in would prevail.”

When he takes the field along with his eight teammates, Liam has two others providing support.

“I have God and Jesus on my side,” he said. “Having that faith takes the fear out of the game. I just have no fear out there.”

What he does have is a burning desire to win. And yet he understands that losing is also part of God’s plan.

“He’s like, ‘Whatever happens its glory to God, and this is just a game, and He is so much bigger than life. God’s given me this to enjoy myself and to have fun,’” Eileen said. “If he has a strikeout or a bad game, it’s not the end of the world.”

While Hennelly would never label himself a shining example to others his age, he does like the fact that Perri feels he could have an impact.

“That would be cool to be a role model,” Liam said. “To show you could do both – play baseball and also serve for Jesus.”

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

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