Football star to be ordained by Pope Francis after turning down a chance at A.S. Roma to answer priesthood call

Pope Francis will ordain nine men to the priesthood on Sunday, including a former film director and a 28-year-old soccer player who turned down a chance to play for the team A.S. Roma.

Samuel Piermarini was offered a chance to sign as second goalkeeper for the youth team of A.S. Roma, part of Italy’s Serie A soccer league, in the national youth championships.

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He decided not to accept the proposal, however, because he knew on that team he would have been warming the bench. “I refused because I wanted to play,” he told the newspaper La Repubblica. He said he was also starting to realize there might be something else he wanted to do with his life.

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The next year, Piermarini told his family that he felt called to the priesthood: “The call of the Lord did not come at a precise moment,” he said. “It was 2011 and I remember that day after day, inside of me, I felt that was the way I would be fulfilled.”

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He entered the Redemptoris Mater seminary, and on April 25, Good Shepherd Sunday, he will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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The soon-to-be priest said that he still loves to play soccer. While in seminary, he created a soccer tournament with friends and classmates. He also played in the Clericus Cup, a soccer tournament for priests and seminarians studying in Rome.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will also ordain eight other priests for the Diocese of Rome, three of whom were born outside Italy. The non-Italians come from Romania, Colombia, and Brazil.

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Among them is 40-year-old Riccardo Cendamo, a former film director, who in 2013 was invited to show his co-directed short film “Regreso a casa” at the 11th edition of the Ischia Film Festival.

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In advance of his ordination as a priest, Cendamo said: “If I look back now, I realize that the call to the priestly vocation has always existed, that love had to mature.”

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