Sunderland AFC priest prays for team's success

Photograph: Father Marc Lyden-Smith
Photograph: Father Marc Lyden-Smith with the T-shirt given to the Pope.

By Jen Tomlin & Violeta Gorcheva

The Sunderland AFC chaplain who presented the Pope with a Sunderland shirt last October is hoping that divine intervention will lead the club to Capital One Cup glory.

The 31-year-old priest, who lives in Newcastle, will be heading to Wembley for the first time to support the Sunderland team.

“It’s wonderful to be the chaplain for the team you support. A Catholic priest is sent to a church by his Bishop so they have no say on where they go.

“My Bishop sent me to work in Newcastle and the opportunity to work with Sunderland came so I took it.

“I am very excited because I’ve never been to Wembley before, and it’s really exciting to have the distraction away from the league.

“It has been tough in the league this season, so it great to have something positive and something to look forward to and enjoy.”

Father Marc appeared on Sky Sports News yesterday when they featured him praying for Sunderland’s success.

“The chaplain is there to provide any support, listen and bring people together in prayer.

“They are there to support people who work for Sunderland AFC and to hold everyone who works for the club – playing staff, coaches, domestic stuff, office staff.

“There’s a lot more to Sunderland AFC than just 11 people that play on the football pitch; it’s a big community of people.

“It’s not the case of praying for a victory because this is not what I do. I certainly pray for the players – that they use their talents that God has given them and to reach their potential – but I hold everyone in Sunderland in prayer.”

Father Marc works for the club one day a week and he spends the rest of his time in St Mary’s Catholic Church in Newcastle.#####

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