On June 8, 2019, Father Martin Luboyera was honored as the 2019 Father Smyth Award recipient by Sports Faith International. Father Martin was born in Kampala, the capital of Uganda in East Central Africa. In Uganda, soccer is the national sport and Father Martin was a bonafide soccer start as a young boy who had aspirations to become a professional. His father, a physician, and his mother, a University Professor, had different ideas. He played at age 6 in one of the highly revered leagues in the country where he won awards for top scoring. At age 9, he began playing in the Kampala Kids League (KKL) with thousands of other kids from various schools and other institutions. He was recruited by one of the best teams in the country to travel the world and compete. At age 13, his team had won many championships including the Trivoli Cup in Argentina. While playing the Kenyan National Team, his teammate and cousin Ivan was struck by lightening and died. Due to a priests retreat and a shortage of priests, Ivan was buried without a priest. His attention was drawn from playing soccer professionally to filling a void that his society and he personally felt. He entered the seminary, all the while continuing to hear appeals from teams who wanted to recruit him. He became a priest and his ordination was attended by 2,000 people; his first Mass was attended by 5000.
Today, Father Martin is an Associate Pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Libertyville. Father Martin has been “recruited” to coach the soccer team at the school, which has won its first soccer championship.
The Father John Smyth Award is presented to those who like the famous priest seek a religious vocation from the world of sports. Smyth went from a basketball star at Notre Dame to a professional basketball player to the seminary–and finally the priesthood. Smyth took his athletic talents and applied them to educating and guiding the lives of young children from troubled families or difficult circumstances to a life at Maryville Academy that could guide and develop good citizens and good people. Smyth managed the institution, helped make it financially sound with an incredible fund raising program and became the personal face of the academy.