"I felt called to something greater," Hilgenbrinck said. "At one time I thought that call might be professional soccer. In the past few years, I found my soul is hungry for something else.
"I discerned, through prayer, that it was calling me to the Catholic Church. I do not want this call to pass me by."
Hilgenbrinck accepted the calling on Monday when he left the New England Revolution and retired from professional soccer to enter a seminary, where he will spend the next six years studying theology and philosophy so he can be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.
"It's not that I'm ready to leave soccer. I still have a great passion for the game," he said in a telephone interview. "I wouldn't leave the game for just any other job. I'm moving on for the Lord. I want to do the will of the Lord, I want to do what he wants for me, not what I want to do for myself."
He then has some even better quotes in this part of the story:
"I fell back on what I knew, and that was the Catholic Church," he said. "I grew up as a Catholic. I was always involved in the church, went to Catholic schools. It was when I got out on my own that my faith really became mine. I really embraced it. I didn't have to go to church any more, I was free to really believe what I wanted to believe.
"I looked to strengthen my personal relationship with Christ. And when my personal life started to flourish, I couldn't turn my back on that relationship."
Hilgenbrinck was signed and cut by the Colorado Rapids before he landed with the Revolution. He played in four MLS games for New England and started in both of the Revolution's U.S. Open Cup matches this month.
Although he has felt the calling for some time, Hilgenbrinck also knew it would be easier to continue playing soccer. He tried to convince himself that he was not ready, not deserving, or not in a hurry.
"I was putting up a bunch of barriers, saying I'm not worthy to be called to something like that," he said. "But, one by one, the barriers started to come down."
Tip O' the Hat to the Curt Jester.