Soccer star Chase Hilgenbrinck retires to enter priesthood
Mount St. Mary's, eh? That's right up the street from DC.
When Chase Hilgenbrinck bounced from Chile to Colorado to New England this spring, his eyes were already on another path. Not toward another MLS club or Europe. Toward the priesthood.
MLS fans might have been startled to read the New England Revolution's announcement this week that the defender was ending his career in midseason to enter a seminary at Mount St. Mary's in Maryland, but the decision wasn't abrupt.
It was something very personal to me. I didn't discuss it with anybody for a long time," says Hilgenbrinck, adding that it took a couple years to reflect. "I just discerned it through personal prayer for a long time, trying to come to a conclusion if this was really what the Lord was calling me to or not."
He started the application process a year ago, telling his family when he returned from Chile. Yet he also wanted his family to see him play in MLS. He was waived by the Colorado Rapids in preseason but landed in New England, where he appeared in four league games and Open Cup and reserve play.
Hilgenbrinck gave the Revs plenty of notice. But coach Steve Nicol encouraged him to stay as long as possible, and the team made no announcement until he had departed after Sunday's SuperLiga game in which he dressed but did not play.
"There's always something that surprises you," Nicol says. "On this occasion, it's a good surprise. Chase is going to go and do something that he really wants to go and do. There's not many of us that can say we're able to do something we really want to do, so that's great for him."
More from Chase Hilgenbrinck himself:
I found an old interview he gave on YouTube:
Chase Hilgenbrinck's decision to leave MLS for the seminary and eventual priesthood was surprising but not sudden. The former Revolution defender tells the story ...
Why?Because I feel called. I’ve actually had my calling. I’ve been discerning this decision for several years now. I had a chance to go play professional soccer in Chile. For a long time, I felt called to something greater, and I didn't know what it was. I thought maybe it was professional soccer. In playing soccer, I realized that wasn’t it. I continued searching.
(In Chile,) for a time, I was trying to get used to the culture and trying to get used to life on my own. I did a lot of soul-searching. I went back to my roots in the Catholic church. I did a lot of praying and strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is what led me and first got me onto the idea that this was a possibility for my future, that this could be what the Lord was calling me to. It was something very personal to me – I didn’t discuss it with anybody for a long time. I just discerned it through personal prayer for a long time, trying to come to a conclusion if this was really what the Lord was calling me to or not.
After all this time, I did realize this is my calling. I decided to discuss that with the priest, who is Father Brian Brownsey, the vocations director of the Peoria diocese where I live. I was accepted by the bishop of the Peoria diocese to be a seminarian. They have accepted me and are sending me to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
Watching it, I think one can sense in him the maturity you need to prudentially make a decision like this.
Best of luck, Chase. Our prayers are with you!