May 18, 2012

Seminarian is a member of Clericus Cup championship team

Members of the soccer team of the Pontifical North American College in Rome celebrate after winning the championship match of the Clericus Cup on May 12. Among the team members is seminarian Martin Rodriguez, second from left, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis. (CNS photo by Paul Haring)

Members of the soccer team of the Pontifical North American College in Rome celebrate after winning the championship match of the Clericus Cup on May 12. Among the team members is seminarian Martin Rodriguez, second from left, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis. (CNS photo by Paul Haring)

By Sean Gallagher

The North American Martyrs, the soccer squad of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, won its first Clericus Cup on May 12 by a 3-0 score against the team fielded by the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome.

The Clericus Cup is a soccer tournament held in Rome annually in which teams of the various seminaries there compete against each other.

Seminarian Martin Rodriguez, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, has been a member of the North American College’s team for the past three years.

“It felt awesome,” said Rodriguez about winning the Clericus Cup. “It takes a lot of work, commitment and dedication to be part of a competitive league, and to be in formation for the priesthood at the same time.

“There are many demands but, at the end of the day, when you see your efforts and sacrifices pay off, it is the greatest feeling in the world, especially when all those sacrifices bring happiness to an entire community.”

Rodriguez said that many of the North American College seminarians attended their team’s matches to cheer for them. Some showed up in superhero costumes as Superman, Batman or the Incredible Hulk.

“We definitely have the best cheering section in the entire cup,” Rodriguez said. “Their support was helpful because we knew that we were not on the field alone.”

In their semifinal match, the North American Martyrs defeated archrival Redemptoris Mater, which had blocked their way to a championship the previous two years.

“In the past years against them, we always lost by one goal,” Rodriguez said. “We knew that they were a very good team, but this year we also had very good players to compete with them. When we finally [defeated] them, it was like a psychological block was removed.”

Rodriguez, who is a reserve forward and midfielder on the team, is scheduled to be ordained a transitional deacon on June 23 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

He said that being a part of the Clericus Cup has contributed to his priestly formation, especially in helping him to appreciate more the role of personal sacrifice in ordained ministry.

“We had in our minds that we were running for each other, offering up our pain and sweat for our brothers on the team,” Rodriguez said. “When I felt that my legs were about to collapse, I thought about my teammates who were injured and needed me to step up for them.”

The other members of the North American Martyrs are affiliated with dioceses across the country and one diocese in Australia. Rodriguez looks forward to building on his already strong relationships with them.

“After I leave the North American College, I am going to have friends all over the United States, and it makes me feel that I’ll have a home everywhere [that] I go,” he said. “In addition, having friends in different dioceses can help me to interchange ideas about ministry. It’s no longer just how does my priest friend do ministry next door, but how other guys in other dioceses do ministry. This can bring a lot of benefits for my ministry in the near future.”

Rodriguez won’t leave the North American College, however, until after the 2012-13 academic year. At this point, he wants to win another Clericus Cup.

“I love playing soccer, and I am looking forward to defending the cup next year,” Rodriguez said. “We definitely want this to be the beginning of a dynasty.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!