Father Chase Hilgenbrinck seemed to have everything. He was playing professional soccer, had a great girlfriend, and had everything figured out. “I wasn’t truly satisfied, there had to be something more. God’s will is the only thing that satisfies,” Father Chase said.
A native of Burlington, IL until he graduated high school, this is the first time after fourteen yeas that he is back to his home state of Illinois. The recently ordained priest is the new parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Moline, St. Anne’s East Moline, St. Mary’s East Moline and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis. He is most looking forward to seeing and meeting the people.
In soccer, Father Chase said he cheers for the New England Revolution because he played for them and he also likes the Chicago Fire. “One of the best times in my career was playing against the Fire. Playing against Cuahtemoc Blanco, I went in a hard tackle, and he was not too happy about it,” he said.
Being from Illinois, he said he cheers for but doesn’t follow the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Bears, and was a huge Chicago Bulls fan back in the day of Michael Jordan. His other favorite soccer teams are Manchester United and Real Madrid and the teams that he played for in Chile.
What led to him becoming a priest was ultimately the will of God. “In discernment, I discerned what I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to play soccer, have children, a family but it was ultimately not the plan of God,” Father Chase said.
Having played professional soccer in Chile for four years, he was able to learn Spanish and the Latino culture. “The Lord took me to play soccer as a secondary reason. I was to find my vocation and learn the culture.” Father Chase does think there are many things that the game of soccer did help him on his journey. “There are good virtues required of any sport, and anyone who wishes to be a good Christian has to be disciplined, sacrifice and lead. One has to know how to be humble in your failings, and have success without being prideful,” he said.
In his last two years of seminary, he worked for Catholic Charities through the immigration office in Washington D.C. There he was an assistant to an immigration lawyer and he was able to learn a lot about the realities and difficulties. He was also assigned to a parish in Washington D.C. and had a beautiful experience working with the community. His favorite Latin food is pretty much anything and he recently had mole for the first time. For fun, he likes to exercise, work out, and enjoy fraternity with friends and brother priests. He hopes, in his new role as a chaplain to the sports teams at Alleman and Our Lady of Grace Catholic Schools to be able to combine faith and sports. “I want kids to learn life of virtue and help,” he said.
Father Chase’s favorite saints are St. John Vianney and St. Therese of Liseaux and his favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:13, where “I can do all things in Christ, it was the first time that the bible was cool. It made me feel powerful and do more that I ever dreamed.” As for what the community can do to help him, he said, “Be active in the life of the parish. Something that gives priests vitality is that people are affected and want to live life in relationship with God. I’ve given my life and when you respond, it motivates me to be a better priest.” Amen.
Get to know Father Chase and Father Fredi on Hola America TV video interview in this link:
Photos by Phil Cunningham
Coming soon our interview with Father Fredi