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Sports journalist goes from being fired for a careless headline to becoming a priest

Anthony Federico
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In his darkest hour, God was there gently guiding Anthony Federico on a whole new path.

In 2012, a young sports journalist for ESPN, Anthony Federico, was covering a basketball match between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Hornets. After seven consecutive wins, the Knicks lost the match due to the poor performance of one of their key players, Jeremy Lin, Federico reported. Late that night, when Federico went to choose a headline for his report, he used the phrase “a chink in the armor,” which immediately launched triggered accusations of racism.

Federico explained the reasoning behind his poor choice of words to John Ourand for Sports Business Daily saying they were meant to “describe Jeremy Lin’s first display of weakness as a starter.” But others saw it as a racial attack on Lin’s Chinese heritage. As news of the poorly worded headline quickly spread, the 28-year-old become literally sick to his stomach and in the middle of the night headed home to seek advice from his parents.

Although his mom and dad thought the scandal would quickly die down, it didn’t. Federico’s fledgling career was in ruins, he and his parents were followed by the press, and he was eventually fired by ESPN. It was no surprise that this lead to Federico experiencing the “the worst month of my life.”

Federico’s career did get another chance with a job at a media company, LiveClips in Stamford, Connecticut. At the same time he also had the opportunity to meet up with Lin for lunch, a gesture Federico believes showed Lin didn’t feel the headline was a deliberate slur against him.

One of the benefits of Federico’s new position was that he was now working more regular hours, which meant he could go out for lunch. While out and about one day he found himself drawn to a Catholic church, St. John the Evangelist Basilica. On the third day walking past the church he eventually went in, an that one visit would eventually change his life.

Federico began going to Mass at the church every lunch break. He even managed to encourage other colleagues — non-Catholics included — to accompany him and to discuss the different rituals afterwards. He spent his evenings learning more about Catholic teaching until it got to the point, 18 months later, that he felt the calling to priesthood.

He turned to Google for some advice on what steps to take, and then received some guidance from the vocations director at the Hartford archdiocese. As he questioned whether it was the right step to take, he sought counsel from his mother, who gave him these wise words: “You feel afraid to go into the seminary? Do it afraid,” she said. “Go face your fears because you’ll always wonder what might have been if you didn’t at least give this a chance.”

Federico spent six years at a seminary in Washington, D.C. and in June 2019 was finally ordained a priest and assigned to a parish in Cheshire, Connecticut.

Although it’s beautiful that the ex-news reporter eventually found his vocation, what is truly inspiring is how his story is one of hope — as well as how much comfort popping into your local church can bring! When, in what he describes as his darkest and worst days of his life, God was there, ready to guide him on a new path. And Federico agrees that the whole headline incident really was a blessing in disguise: “Something tells me that this was always the path that I’d been called to. This was the way God used to get my attention — his plan for my life.”

You can read the whole article in Sports Business Daily.

Read more: 26-year-old twins ordained to the priesthood side by side on the same day

Read more: Former Kentucky quarterback pursues vocation as a missionary

 

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