Belfast Telegraph

Former Manchester United star reveals how he's tackling life in priesthood

By Staff Reporter

Former Manchester United footballer Philip Mulryne has spoken about how his former team-mates found it hard to believe he had decided to become a Catholic priest.

"They found it hard to understand," said the west Belfast born ex-Northern Ireland international. "The life of a priest is very alien, they ask why would you do that?

"So we have some interesting conversations, but after all the banter they are my friends and they are very supportive of it."

Fr Mulryne (39) has spoken about his incredible journey from professional football to the priesthood in a new film to be broadcast on UTV this week.

In A New Order investigates the vocation crisis in the Catholic church and speaks to two men who answered the call to the priesthood.

Dominican priest Mulryne will tell the programme: "Towards the middle to end of my 20s, I grew a little bit dissatisfied with the footballer lifestyle, all the stuff around the game.

"I still loved the game very much - playing, training and being involved in the soccer teams. I was not feeling fulfilled by it which led me to ask deeper questions.

"At the end of that process I returned home in 2009 and took a year out of the game and in that year I rediscovered my faith.

"From nowhere the desire in me started to grow to become a priest and I knew that wasn't from me, as I never in my whole life wanted to become a priest.

"All my life was about football. And so this desire that was growing certainly wouldn't have been something I generated myself. I ignored it for a little while but it wouldn't go away."

In the film, Sarah Clarke interviews senior clerics, former UK Ambassadors to the Holy See, commentators and well-known practising Catholics.

She also talks to Fr Manuelito Muga Milo, originally from the Philippines, but who finished his training in Ireland and is now the first foreign priest to be trained and ordained for a diocese in Ireland, taking up a curate position in St Patrick's Church on Belfast's Donegall Street.

Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, who is 40 years ordained this summer, reveals a very personal insight into the vow of celibacy.

"I would love to have been married, I would have loved to have been a father and a grandfather but it's not my vocation. And I'm at peace with that," he said.

"I love young people's company, women's company but marriage is not my vocation and I'm at peace with that and have been for all of those years. I've accepted that's what the Lord is calling me to do."

In A New Order is on UTV this Wednesday at 10.45pm

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