Former Red Devil takes first Mass as priest

Former Manchester United player Fr Philip Mulryne before his inaugural mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in West Belfast  following his ordination. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Former Manchester United player Fr Philip Mulryne before his inaugural mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in West Belfast following his ordination. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer ordained to the priesthood has taken part in his first Mass.

Philip Mulryne, 39, returned to his native Belfast for a special Catholic religious service at St Oliver Plunkett Church. He was made a deacon in the Dominican Order at an ordination at St Saviour’s church in north Dublin at the weekend.

The new priest was joined by friends and well-wishers at Monday night’s Mass – just a few miles from Windsor Park Stadium, where he once donned the green jersey of his home country – flanked by white-robed members of his order. The product of the youth system at Old Trafford made his debut for the first team in 1997. He was unable to secure a regular place in Alex Ferguson’s side and left to play at clubs including Norwich City, Cardiff City and Leyton Orient.

The clergyman said his vocation was a calling. “This is a new chapter now in my life.”

He undertook the rites associated with Catholicism, assisted by a more senior cleric, involving the blessing of sacraments, according to Catholic doctrine transforming bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Mass-goers heard how his vocation as a friar preacher should be to “set hearts on fire” with the love of Jesus.