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Former Manchester United player continues journey to priesthood


Philip Mulryne, with Fr Gregory Carroll.

Philip Mulryne, with Fr Gregory Carroll.

Philip Mulryne at his Solemn Profession to the Dominican Order

Philip Mulryne at his Solemn Profession to the Dominican Order


Philip Mulryne, with Fr Gregory Carroll.

It's not often you can describe a footballer as a spiritual man. Between the WAGs, Cheshire mansions and Range Rovers, other more colourful words spring to mind.

But in the case of Philip Mulryne, "spiritual" is spot-on. The former Manchester United and Northern Ireland midfielder made his Solemn Profession to the Dominican Order on Sunday.

He will now spend the next year studying theology and pastoral care to become a fully ordained priest next summer.

Father Denis Murphy, a member of the Dominican Order based in Galway, explained that all prospective members have to spend a year as "novitiates".

They dedicate themselves to prayer, study of Dominican history and daily participation in mass before moving on to three years of Simple Profession.

After the three years they make their Solemn Profession, a lifelong vow to the Dominican Order.

Father Murphy said: "At the end of the three years the order will have the choice of taking the person in and the person will also have the choice of whether they want to join.

"It's quite a significant decision."

Philip made his Solemn Profession at St Saviour's Priory in Dublin during mass.

Bernard Treacy, editor of the theology journal Doctrine and Life, said: "They lie down and are asked, 'What do you seek?'.

"They reply, 'God's mercy and yours', before they put their hands onto the friar's hand in the medieval gesture of fealty."

Treacy explained that the reason for lying down was to turn one's body into a physical symbol of faith.

The ceremony was a far cry from Philip's footballing glory days in 1998, when he scored a hat-trick for Manchester United as a 20-year-old, albeit in a pre-season friendly against Birmingham.

His infamous antics in 2005 are also remembered, when he and Jeff Whitley were barred from qualification matches against Azerbaijan and England.

The duo were sent home in disgrace by manager Lawrie Sanchez when they returned to their hotel in the early morning.

The Dominican Order however could not provide a more different lifestyle.

Treacy said one of the key aspects of the Order was to, "do everything thoughtfully, and not to take anything at its face value".

He said: "There's a duty to share and appreciate that everybody's involved in a search for wisdom."

Founded in 1216 by Spanish priest St Dominic de Guzman, the Dominican Order is famed for its contributions to science and theology.

Irish Dominicans have churches in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Tralee, as well as houses in Tehran, Iran and Rome, Italy.

Belfast Telegraph