Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Manchester United player says priesthood has filled void in his life

By Cate McCurry

A former Northern Ireland footballer who was recently ordained a priest has opened up about his decision, saying the move filled a void in his life.

Philip Mulryne (39), who played for Manchester United during his 13-year career as a professional footballer, said his first Mass in Dunmurry earlier this month.

The Belfast man was ordained at a ceremony in Dublin, attended by his family and friends.

Father Mulryne explained why he quit football to become a Catholic priest in an online video for True Light Catholic Media.

"I was very fortunate to have a wonderful career as a footballer, as many young men aspire to, so it was always my dream," he said.

"During the process of living out that dream, later on in my 20s I started to feel as if there was a void there or an emptiness in the way I was living my life.

"Maybe it was the lifestyle around the football game that I was growing more and more dissatisfied with.

"There was an emphasis on material things and I was putting all my trust in these things as if they were going to bring my happiness."

The former Premier League footballer explained that his sister, who he described as a "devout" Catholic, often sent him religious books, but that it wasn't until many years later that he began to read them.

He added: "My whole identity was caught up in the fact that I was a footballer, and outside of that I didn't really know who I was.

"I explored the faith a bit more and came to a radical decision in 2009 that I would come back to Ireland for a year.

"I always had the intention of going back and finishing my career and maybe becoming a manager, but it was really during that year that I discovered my vocation and my faith again.

"I started to go to Mass and pray, and my faith became central again, then I couldn't really go back to football. During 2009, I entered the seminary and studied for the priesthood. Now, seven years later, here I am."

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