'Souls and Goals' scores for vocations

The "young guns," as one fan called the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary Lions soccer team, pulled it off with a 2-0 victory.

The first "Souls and Goals" Soccer Cup pitted the seminarians, a team that plays in the CYC's adult soccer league, against Clergy and Co., a team of priests and a few of their friends. The priests' team started out strong and applied pressure at the start of the game, which had no score at halftime. Gradually, a relentless attack by the seminarians, led by Michael Horn, was too much for Clergy and Co.'s sound defense.

Horn, of St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Sappington, scored the first goal and Jacob Brock, of Assumption Parish in Mattese, scored the second.

The game, designed in part to raise awareness of vocations, was a rousing success. More than 1,000 people packed the stands at St. Dominic High School in O'Fallon. Many of them stood through the game, and all cheered good plays on both sides.

The game was broadcast on St. Joseph Radio and over the public address system by Tom Eichwald with Zip Rzeppa as commentator. They introduced the players -- seminarians in sharp, white uniforms and priests in black -- to much fanfare and some comic moves as they ran from midfield to form a line along the sidelines in front of the stands. The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus led evening prayer.

Young women religious were at the gate greeting people as they entered the stadium. T-shirts and concessions were on sale, with hot chocolate a big seller on a chilly evening. Several priests who weren't on the team walked in the stands, stopping and chatting with people as they kept an eye on the game.

In the stands

Mary Hilmes of St. Ferdinand Parish in Florissant was in the stands with her sons, John, a junior at Trinity Catholic High School, and Greg, an eighth-grader at St. Ferdinand School. She was predicting the clergy would pull out a win while John looked to the seminarians. The boys have attended Kenrick-Glennon camps where they got to know several seminarians.

Chris Echele of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in St. Charles went to Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo., with seminarian Chris Venverloh, who played club soccer in college. Echele predicted a close game but thought the seminarians "have a little more pep than the ordained guys."

Jan Unterreiner of Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie wore St. Louis Cardinals gear and sported pom-poms, yelling "Go, team." She was among many in the stands who came to support Father Tim Foy, associate pastor of her parish, who was the organizer of the event along with the vocations committee of the parish.

Annie Gardner, a junior at Cor Jesu, said, "It's a fun time," adding that the event is a "great way to raise awareness for vocations." Her friend, Ali Meehan, also a Cor Jesu junior, said she appreciated seeing a different side of the priests and seminarians as they enjoyed themselves on the athletic field.

Camaraderie

Deacon Tim Dallas and his daughter, Beverly, a sophomore at Francis Howell Central, said what stood out was the camaraderie among the players and all those attending the event. "I'm really amazed at the number of families enjoying themselves so much," he added.

Socializing at halftime with friends, Jake Hermann, a 2013 graduate of St. Dominic, noted that he was enjoying the evenly matched game. He took note of the play of Bishop Edward Rice and one of the St. Dominic teachers, Nathan Doerr, who was playing with the priests' team.

Clergy & Co. goalie Jeff Geerling made several of his excellent saves in the second half. The crowd let out a loud "oooh" as one of his teammates had hit the crossbar on a shot that would have tied the game.

Trophy time

In presenting the trophy at the end of the game, Bishop Robert Hermann said youth was on the winning side, "but my heart goes out to the old men who played." He laughed as he added that he hasn't played in some 50 years.

Father Chris Martin, vocations director for the archdiocese and one of the players on the priests' team, turned to the seminarians and joked that "all of your ordinations have been delayed by a year."

Father Foy, who was ordained in 2011 and had played two years on the seminary's CYC team, later said it was fun to get back with his former seminary teammates and to see the support from so many in attendance. Laughing, he said his teammates "were ripped a bit for losing" but "they were just glad none of us went away on a stretcher or wheelchair."

Father Martin said that a couple years ago he suggested priests organize a fun and casual event to promote vocations. Father Foy came up with the idea on his own, however. The game succeeded in showing how the men studying for the priesthood and priests take part in normal activities with joy, Father Martin noted.

Ordained in 2006, he keeps active by running, but the game made him aware of "some muscles I haven't used in a long time," he said.

One of the players, Father Kevin Vogel, a Kenrick-Glennon grad who was ordained for the Archdiocese of Omaha, travelled from there for the game. The priests had practiced a few times but never with a full squad.

'A great time'

Jan Schlueter was at the game with Molly Ramthun, Susan Vola, Sarah Ellis and Jan's husband, Jim, members of the vocations committee at Immaculate Conception. Jan Schlueter said they snickered when Father Foy suggested the idea but then saw it as a good opportunity to promote vocations. "I've been excited to have the young people see the priests, seminarians and sisters having a great time," she added.

Singing the National Anthem before the game was Elizabeth Pulliam, a senior at St. Dominic. She said anytime she is asked to sing she asks the Holy Spirit to move through her to inspire others. "My mom asks me to ask Jesus to be with me."

The game was a bit of an eye-opener for her. "I've never heard of seminarians playing soccer. That's just so cool."

Vocations
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