When Chase Hilgenbrinck of Major League Soccer's New England Revolution wanted to talk with president of player personnel Michael Burns and coach Steve Nicol, the two “weren't exactly sure what he was going to say,” Burns said. “It’s not what you usually hear.”
Hilgrenbrinck with the
New England Revolution
What they heard from Hilgenbrinck was that he was retiring from professional soccer to enter the seminary and become a Roman Catholic priest.
Hilgenbrinck, 26, a defender and captain of the Revolution’s reserve team, will attend Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. After his studies he will report to his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois for assignment.
"I felt called to something greater," Hilgenbrinck told ESPNsoccernet. "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 fell back on what I knew, and that was the Catholic Church," he said. "I grew up as a Catholic. I was always involved in the church, went to Catholic schools. It was when I got out on my own that my faith really became mine. I really embraced it. I didn't have to go to church any more, I was free to really believe what I wanted to believe.”
Because professional sports careers tend to be short, did he consider putting off his move into the priesthood until his soccer career ended? "Trust me, I thought of that," he said. "I discerned, through prayer, that it was calling me to the Catholic Church. I do not want this call to pass me by," he said. "I was putting up a bunch of barriers, saying I'm not worthy to be called to something like that. But, one by one, the barriers started to come down.
"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."
Player personnel president Burns commented on Hilgenbrinck’s decision, "When he said it, I was glad. I was glad for him. This is something that he clearly wants to do, and we wish him all the best."
Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.