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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"New England Revolution soccer player retiring, plans to become Catholic priest"

New England Revolution club news release:

FOXBORO - The New England Revolution has announced that defender Chase Hilgenbrinck has decided to leave the club and retire from soccer to enter a Catholic seminary in Maryland to prepare for a new career (again with the "career" - people just don't get it!) in the ministry. Additionally, the Revs announced that MLS rookie of the year candidate forward Kheli Dube has been promoted to the team's 18-man senior roster.

Hilgenbrinck, 26, signed with the Revolution on March 28, 2008 following a four-year career in Chile. He made four appearances in MLS first-team matches, including one start. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he also started the Revs' two U.S. Open Cup victories this month. Additionally, he started all six of the reserve team's games for which he was available, captaining the team twice.

"We understand Chase's decision to retire from soccer and pursue his mission of helping others and we support his desire to make this change in his life." Revolution Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns said. "We wish Chase the best and thank him for the service and leadership he provided in his brief tenure with us."

"After years of discernment, I feel strongly that the Lord has called me to become a priest in the Catholic Church," Hilgenbrinck said. "Playing professional soccer has been my passion for a long time and I feel blessed to have successfully lived out this dream. My passion now is to do the will of God, which is wanting only what He wants for me. Though I will miss the game of soccer, I know that I am moving on to something much greater."

From the Boston Herald
Chase Hilgenbrinck leaves for priesthood

When he was playing professional soccer in Chile, Chase Hilgenbrinck would seek comfort in the churches to satisfy his spiritual needs and remind him of childhood Sundays spent at Holy Trinity in Bloomington, Ill.

Even after moving back to the United States last Christmas to play Major League Soccer - a dream of his - Hilgenbrinck felt the pull of his religion.

“I felt called to something greater,” Hilgenbrinck said. “At one time I thought that call might be professional soccer. In the past few years, I found my soul is hungry for something else. I discerned, through prayer, it was calling me to the Catholic Church. I do not want this call to pass me by.”

Hilgenbrinck accepted the calling yesterday when he left the Revolution and retired from professional soccer to enter a seminary, where he will spend the next six years studying theology and philosophy so he can be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

“It’s not that I’m ready to leave soccer. I still have a great passion for the game,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave the game for just any other job. I’m moving on for the Lord. I want to do the will of the Lord, I want to do what he wants for me, not what I want to do for myself.”

A 26-year-old defender who was the captain of the Revs reserve team, Hilgenbrinck will attend Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md (Suffice to say this is bad news for St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and St. Mary's in Baltimore who play in the Rector's Cup soccer tournament against Mt. St. Mary's). After finishing his studies, he will report to his home parish in Peoria, Ill., for assignment.

“He said it was time for him, that he had been thinking long and hard,” Revs vice president of player personnel Michael Burns said. “Purely from a Revs standpoint, it’s too bad. But a lot of players leave the game not on their own terms. He’s clearly left on his own terms, which is great for him.”

With a short window in which he will be able to play pro sports, Hilgenbrinck considered postponing the priesthood until after his career was over. But he decided with certainty he could not wait.

“Trust me, I thought of that,” he said. “We are all called to do something. I feel like my specific call is to the priesthood. So, no, it was not possible to continue with soccer. It’s absolutely inevitable.”


K. Kimtis said...

Hey! Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey also competes in the Rector's Cup. Whenever seminaries are listed, we get left out because we are so small...

Anyway, thanks for the great blog!

Fr. Dan said...

Agreed that it is great news for the Mount's soccer team! Especially as "the Spaniard" has now gone on to ordination.

Note that the fourth seminary in the Rector's Cup tournament is not St. Mary's, Baltimore, but Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University.

Last year a separate tournament was also revived: St. Mary's, Baltimore; Theological College, Catholic University; Mount St. Mary's, Emmitsburg; and St. Charles Borromeo, Philadelphia. So two seminaries are in both tournaments.

Roman Catholic Vocations said...

Charles and Dan,

Thank you for the clarifications and additional information!

This of course is not good news for our guys from the Diocese of Raleigh who are at St. Charles. Unless one of the guys in our discernment group answers the call - he's a definite ringer!