By: Ellen Teague
A former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer has celebrated his inaugural Mass after ordination to the priesthood last weekend in Dublin. Fr Philip Mulryne, 39, said the Mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in his home city of Belfast on Monday evening, with family and friends in the congregation.
He was spotted by a Manchester United scout playing for his parish team in Belfast as a 14-year-old, and invited to the club for a trial. He went on to sign a two-year schoolboy contract at Old Trafford before signing a four-year contract as a professional in 1994. At one time he earned £600,000 a year as a professional footballer. Fr Mulryne played five times for the Manchester United first team, sharing the field once with David Beckham, and continued his playing career at clubs including Norwich City, Cardiff City and Leyton Orient. He played 27 times for Northern Ireland.
When he retired from football in 2009 he entered the Diocese of Down and Connor Seminary at Saint Malachy’s in Belfast. He spent two years studying philosophy at Queen's University in Belfast and at the Maryvale Institute before going to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome to study theology for one year at the Gregorian University. He entered the Dominican Novitiate House in Cork in 2012.
He was ordained a Deacon on 29 October 2016 by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. See: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/31262
Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who travelled from Rome to ordain him, said during the Dublin service: “In a real sense, your experience as an athlete has helped to prepare you for this moment: you have known the meaning of working hard to attain a goal, and now the goal is Christ.”
Now a member of the Dominican Order, Fr Mulryne will be assigned to the Dominican Priory to join the chaplaincy team at Newbridge College in County Kildare.