Newly ordained Fr Vincent (33): ‘To get a rise out of me lads on the hurling team might say ‘Well Father, how’ya doing?’
A hurler who decided to join the priesthood at the age of 27 admitted that he was worried about his teammates' reactions upon hearing the news that he had found his vocation.
Former underage hurler with Tipperary Fr. Vincent Stapleton revealed that he had a fear of being ridiculed and judged after he made his decision but instead was thrilled with the level of support he received from his village club in Borrisoleigh.
“I was ordained on July 4 and there was four people ordained on July 5 so I’m not even the newest ordained priest,” said Fr. Vincent speaking to Anton Savage on Today FM.
“When I made the decision my parents were very happy for me because their faith means a lot to them.
“With my friends, my idea of how they’d react was just that they’d laugh and think I was crazy or that they’d think I was wasting my life. I was manager of the Borrisoleigh under 14s at the time and we were just beaten in the final on the Saturday and I was heading off on the Sunday so I told them all then. I came back down three weeks later to play.
"After that match Ken Hogan, who played in goals for Tipperary and won two All Irelands, he came in and he congratulated us on winning the game and then congratulated me and my own lads burst out into a cheer and they were all clapping me on the back and I thought to myself ‘Why didn’t I tell ye sooner?’
Fr Vincent, whose friends call him Vinnie, said his teammates respect his decision and have supported him even if some don’t share his views.
“Lads off the hurling team if they were just trying to get a rise out of me they might say ‘Well Father, How’ya doing?’,” Fr Vincent joked.
“Some of them don’t share my views but that’s okay.
“After my first mass I played a match.
“I recently had hip surgery on an injury so this was my first match back against a club with lads I would have taught fifth and sixth class to I went in for the last 15 minutes. I’m a full back and the full forward was a big hefty lad who I marked in 2003 in the championship. He said ‘You’re a priest now so you can’t hit me’ and I said ‘I’m a priest now so you can’t hit me!’
“That’s the way it goes!”
The newly ordained priest revealed that his fascination with the church has always been on his mind, even as a young child when he used to play ‘Mass’ using an ironing board.
“It was a long time in gestation I could say. I could go back to when I was seven when I was making my First Holy Communion and there was some attraction to priesthood that had me playing priest at home and using an ironing board as an alter.
“I remember having another boy in our neighbourhood ringing the bell at the right time and I used to give him torn pieces of bread for communion.
“I wrapped myself in a white blanket. It goes back that far,” he said.
The former primary school teacher said that he toyed with the idea of becoming a priest for years, even in college when he was on the “party scene”.
“I’ve done the party scene and lived in college with three lads and three girls and we had a good time. I didn’t have a serious relationship.
“I was very socially awkward in secondary school and even going into college.
“I came from a family of four boys, went to an all boys school so it took me a while to come to grips with women.
“Now some of my best friends are women and we get on great but naturally enough I was attracted to having relationships with women at that time of my life,” he said.