By: JACK M.
Chase Hilgenbrinck grew up in a middle-class family in Bloomington, Illinois. Soccer was his passion growing up, and he was good at it…very good. In high school, he made the United States Under-17 national team, and after he graduated from university in 2004, he had a few stints in Chile and back home in the U.S. But the rising star’s brightest moments were when he played professionally for a number of MLS (Major League Soccer) teams, including the Colorado Rapids and the New England Revolution.
The MLS represents the highest level of professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada. But in July 2008, Hilgenbrinck made an announcement that left fans and teammates gobsmacked. At the pinnacle of his career, he decided to leave the high-flying world of professional soccer to enter the Catholic seminary of Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, where he would spend the next six years studying theology, philosophy, history and Latin for the priesthood.
His colourful soccer uniform was replaced by the standard black and grey threads of a seminarian, and the daily and sometimes hectic routine of playing, practice, giving interviews and signing autographs was replaced with contemplation and a sparsely-furnished room at the seminary. And in May of 2014, at the age of 32, Chase Hilgenbrinck the soccer phenom became Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, the Roman Catholic priest. The last we heard, Father Chase was posted to St. Anne Parish in East Moline, in his home state of Illinois.
In an interview, Chase said he “felt called to something greater,” adding that, “though I will miss the game of soccer, I know that I am moving on to something much greater. When I was living my dream [of playing professional soccer], I thought I had everything that I ever wanted, and I wasn’t at peace like I am now.”