The soccer pro and the seminary

It was almost exactly three years ago that we first looked at a story about a young soccer pro named Chase Hilgenbrinck and his decision to leave the sport for seminary. Hilgenbrinck's story resonated with readers and viewers and we ended up looking at a few different takes on it. I am such a sucker for the follow-up. So I was delighted to see that the Washington Post's Kathy Orton checked in with Hilgenbrinck for an update. Here's her "Whatever Happened to ... the soccer pro who left to become a priest?"

She begins by discussing the media maelstrom:

Chase Hilgenbrinck looks back on his first few months at Mount St. Mary’s and wonders how he did it.

His decision to leave behind a Major League Soccer career for the priesthood generated such enormous interest that between the interview requests and the speaking engagements, he hardly had any energy left for his studies.

Since then, Hilgenbrinck has curtailed his public exposure to devote more time to becoming a priest.

“It was crazy,” said Hilgenbrinck, who grew up in Bloomington, Ill. “But at the time, I thought that was normal. I thought that was normal for me because when I was a soccer player, I was doing interviews every day. ... I’m grateful for the wisdom of my [advisers] who said, ‘You can’t keep this pace up.’ ”

Orton summarizes the original story. His case was interesting because he left the sport in his prime, not at retirement. We are reminded of his gradual decision to become a priest. He's now in his third year at the seminary and "has no regrets" but misses soccer.

The story was tremendously brief but utilized quotes quite well. Here's an example:

Hilgenbrinck will be ordained in May 2014. Then it will be up to his bishop where he serves God. Of the many options, it is clear where his heart lies.

“To live in a parish and be a kind of shepherd of a flock and guiding people every single day in a daily Mass, meeting them in the most important times of their life — in baptism, in their marriage, in their death — being with someone their entire life, and getting to know families and leading them to holiness and a life with Christ, that’s what this is all about,” he said.

There's something so satisfying about an update. I'm one of those people who keeps ruminating on a story years after the fact and wonders "whatever happened to ..." all the time. It's nice when media outlets provide updates and do them well.

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