Former Norwich City player Philip Mulryne takes part in first Mass as priest

Former Norwich City player Philip Mulryne during his inaugural mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in

Former Norwich City player Philip Mulryne during his inaugural mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in West Belfast following his ordination. Picture Liam McBurney/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

A former Norwich City 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.

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 Northern Ireland - flanked by white-robed members of his order.

MORE: Former Norwich City and Manchester United star Philip Mulryne ordained as a priest for the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers)

The product of the youth system at Manchester United, he made his debut for the first team in 1997 against Ipswich Town but alongside the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona was unable to secure a regular place in the side.

He was transferred to the Canaries in 1999. Over the next six years he scored 18 goals for the Carrow Road side while also earning 27 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring three goals since his debut for the national side in 1997.

In the 2001–02 season, he was a member of the Norwich team that reached the final of the Division One play-offs against Birmingham City in Cardiff. However the Canaries lost on penalties.

After short spells at Cardiff City, Leyton Orient and non-league King's Lynn, he retired officially from football in 2009 aged 31 and entered the Diocesan Seminary of Saint Malachy's Belfast.

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At the service the clergyman said vocation was a calling.

'This is a new chapter now in my life,' he said.

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.

He was made a member of the Dominican Order at an ordination at St Saviour's church in north Dublin at the weekend.

Fr John Walsh alluded to the bonfires which are traditionally lit in loyalist areas in Northern Ireland marking Twelfth of July festivities.

He said: 'Be an arsonist for Christ, to set the hearts as a friar preacher on fire with the love of Jesus.

'May your years of priesthood be as happy as mine.'

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