WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Father Drew Hoffman was once a Bishop Carroll student and a Golden Eagle football player.

“So those were some good years. We lost in the state championship game my junior year and had good teams throughout that time, and I loved playing. Most famously, I was here when Blake Bell was here. That’s what everybody knows about — Blake, who went to OU and plays for the Chiefs now,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman now plays for Christ. When his football playing days ended, he found himself searching for meaning and fulfillment in his life.

“So, we lost this football game, and that was kind of the tipping point. Now, I got to think about real life now. Playing football your senior year. That’s kind of what you think about. You’re just enjoying yourself and having fun,” Hoffman said. “It was the next night that I really started thinking about, not necessarily the priesthood, but my future in general, and I went to this Adoration Chapel, this prayer space at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on the west side. I was there for like two hours that night.”

Hoffman answered the Lord’s calling. He’s the chaplain and pastor at the St. Paul Catholic Student Center on the Wichita State campus, and he loves returning to Carroll.

“I come back as often as is appropriate. I don’t want to take away from the guys whose full-time job this is, but this was home for me. I went here for four years. There’s still so many teachers that were teachers when I was here, coaches that were coaches when I was here.”

Some of the current football players knew that Hoffman also suited up at Carroll, but others did not.

“So, he married my sister Grace Buessing at our home parish in Colwich,” said Cooper Buessing, Bishop Carroll senior free safety.

“I actually did not know that. He did say in today’s homily that he went to Carroll, and he’s a Carroll grad of ’09, but I did not know he played football here,” said Tate Blasi, Bishop Caroll, senior wide receiver.

Hoffman is one of 42 Carroll grads currently serving as priests. Carroll has also turned out 18 religious sisters.

“I love being a priest. That’s what I just told the students here at Mass is that the priesthood is the great gift of my life. And people often wonder, are priests sad? Are they lonely? How did they get into this? I love being a priest, and it’s been the great gift of my life thus far. So, that’s what I try to tell people. All the time,” Hoffman continued. “Obviously, it’s not for everybody. But if that’s something that the Lord is calling you to do, if the Lord is tugging at your heart to give of yourself in this way, we all have to give ourselves in one way or another, as a married person or as a religious sister, whatever the case might be. But the priesthood, maybe it is, if that’s what the Lord wants you to do, that’s where He’ll make you more happy than you could ever imagine.”

Hoffman played on teams that won three straight league titles. One of those teams, his junior year, made it to the 2008 state championship game.