Salina, Kan., Jan 7, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).
There are nearly 500,000 college athletes, and of those, about 2% will embark in a professional sports career. The others will, as the NCAA says, “go pro in something other than sports.”
Landry Weber, a 23-year-old wide receiver for Kansas State University’s football team, will soon be going “pro” in something very different from the gridiron: he’s entering seminary and hopes eventually to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Weber told CNA that while he initially began feeling a call to the priesthood during his freshman year of college, he “didn’t really want much to do with it.” But as the feelings continued, he reached out to a priest at his college parish, St. Isidore’s. The priest gave him materials to read, and Weber continued to pray, go on retreats, and continued his discernment process.
While discerning, Weber has maintained a devotion to the Virgin Mary, saying that she’s “been a huge part of my life.” He consecrated himself to Mary twice in college, saying they were “very powerful experiences both times” and that his Marian consecration helped with his discernment journey.
About eighteen months into his discernment, Weber came to the conclusion that he likely had a vocation to the priesthood.
“So probably after a year and a half or so of discernment was when I kind of was like, ‘Okay, I think this is something that I’m being called to do,’” he said. However, he decided that he wanted to finish out his college football career before entering seminary.
Weber’s career ended with a 42-20 victory over Louisiana State University in the Texas Bowl. It was at that game where news of his vocation reached a national stage.
Sports business analyst and former ESPN writer Darren Rovell tweeted “‘He’ll be entering the priesthood when his college career is finished.’ — Announcer Tom Hart on Kansas State wide receiver Landry Weber. I’ve never heard that line watching a football game before.” *
“He’ll be entering the priesthood when his college career is finished.” — Announcer Tom Hart on Kansas State wide receiver Landry Weber.
I’ve never heard that line watching a football game before.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 5, 2022
Unfortunately, Weber suffered a high ankle sprain on his second play of the game, cutting short what he already knew would be his last football game. He told CNA that the injury was a reminder of the bigger picture.
“(Getting injured) was tough, but it helped me a lot to just acknowledge that I never deserved to play in that game in the first place,” he said.
During the 2020 season, which was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Weber said that he experienced a change in his mindset towards football, realizing that “every game and every play that I get is a gift that I don’t deserve.”
“Every opportunity that I get is a blessing, and I’m just gonna be thankful for every chance I get to play,” he said. “And so that was my attitude this whole entire season.”
Weber’s parents were “very supportive” about his plans to enter the seminary, as were his teammates at Kansas State.
“I was a little nervous to share [his seminary plans] with them, but when I did share it they were all very supportive of it and surprised,” he said. His teammates peppered him with questions, mainly about how he would be giving up the possibility of marriage.
“And so, a lot of questions, but really, a lot of support. I was surprised by how they thought it was a very cool thing that I would do something different,” said Weber. “That’s something I would say that I love about the game of football and the guys on a football team; it’s very much a melting pot of guys from all over the country – very diverse, melting pot of guys that come from different backgrounds and different walks of lives, and everyone loves each other for who they are within the team.”
Weber drew parallels between being part of a storied football program to his potential role as a priest.
“Something cool about football is that when you play college football, you’re a part of something that’s bigger than you,” he said, adding that people plan vacations and their weekends around Kansas State football. “It’s a ginormous part of their lives and you get to be on the field responsible for playing this game and providing people joy and bringing people together.”
The idea of becoming a priest and the feeling of entering seminary is a “very similar feeling,” said Weber.
“I get to be a part of something that’s much bigger than me, and I get to help out in a way that I’m very unworthy of being a part of,” he said.
And while Weber says the attention to his vocation is “flattering,” he feels “extremely unworthy of that attention.”
“There are tons of other men saying ‘yes’ to the seminary, being ordained priests,” he said. “My ‘yes’ is no more special than theirs. And so I almost feel bad for the attention that I get, because what they’re doing is incredible.”
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