Father Michael was just so MUCH person and he always made sure there was enough of him to go around. He took the time for us. Yes, he did all those lovely, kind, funny, holy, silly, human things with and for us. Father Michael was so much a reflection of the Lord in all ways. John the Baptist’s words “He must increase so I must decrease” bespeak our Father Michael’s life. He squeezed every iota of the Lord into his persona: His kindness, His love, His generosity, His humility, His suffering, His attention, His presence. These were all facets of Father Michael which were so completely good, so guilelessly presented, so achingly beautiful.
What a special man! How he could preach! It was always quite simple- about our everyday,ordinary lives- but punctuated with joy and laughter, with sadness and sometimes tears , always with beauty, understanding and eloquence. Father Michael’s gift to us there was only enhanced by his love for his prayer life- plain and simple- it was the focal point of his day. He once joyously told me “Guess what! Today I had three hours of contemplative prayer before Mass!” Another time, he spoke of people visiting religious websites on the net. Father Michael said “I don’t know why they’d do that! I ‘d rather spend the time in church!”
Father Michael was a man of great compassion. Once he was talking about a family he knew, and said, eyes welling up with tears “Oh — People have such suffering in their lives!” He truly suffered with people;it was very moving to observe. Another time he listened to a family story of mine: I relayed how, as a small boy in the 30’s, my dad had used his newsboy money to buy his older sister some ice skates. I glanced at Father Michael and saw the tears form and fall. He loved seeing the goodness in people. “God is so good” he ‘d say again and again.
For me, it was the “being with” Father Michael that made such a difference in my life. The circumstances didn’t matter; the truth of our Faith was simply always there with him. It was a joy to be with him no matter what. That was the Kingdom of God- right there in Father Michael, plain as day–in that winsome yet wise presence, in that loving heart, in that smiling countenance of peace. If you were with him, you felt it, you saw it, you believed it and knew it – the truth…… the goodness of God.