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.