Father Michael was always more than happy to pray. In fact, in one of the first emails I wrote to him, I asked for prayers for my niece. Emily had been newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis -just three weeks after her wedding. Always kind and reassuring, Father Michael wrote this back to me:
“I promise to say Mass for your niece. Again, I can’t imagine what it is like to be so happy at one’s wedding and to have this diagnosis so soon afterwards. Did you see the lady with the cane giving out Communion yesterday? She found out she had MS just a few weeks before her wedding. And that was 40 years ago. She is very happily married to a great and kind man.”
Father Michael continued to pray for Emily and often inquired about her MS treatments and general health. Once I visited him in the sacristy and we just chatted and joked casually. Father M then got very serious and said he wanted to ask a favor of me. I listened attentively. He told me again about Mrs. M (the lady in the quote above) and explained that he had asked her, a while back, to pray for my niece. “No names were mentioned” he said. I gratefully expressed my thanks for the prayer. Father Michael , smiling sweetly, said ” So I would really love it , if you would start to pray for Mrs M. She’s recently had some labs done and the numbers were not good. She needs the prayer. And I thought it would be nice that you, being members of separate families handling the same illness, would pray for each other.” Well, what could I say? “Of course I will Father M. I ‘d be happy to do that”. Father Michael was so pleased.
So after that , when I’d visit, I’d often ask Father Michael how Mrs. M was doing. And he would be cautiously optimistic for the most part. He would always thank me for my prayer. Eventually, Mrs. M improved quite a bit and Father Michael was very encouraged and pleased. I then said to him a bit tentatively “You know, I’m still praying for her every day.” Father Michael said “Oh yes, I know you are! Thank you!” He said this to me with the biggest grin. I looked at him, thought about it and said ” I guess I will be praying for Mrs. M …..always”. Father Michael said nothing in response,but gave me that huge grin again. I should have known I wouldn’t get off the hook! I’m thinking Mrs M. is still praying for Emily, too.
Father Michael is taking care of all kinds of heavenly business in his new life. He wouldn’t be idle. Here on earth,still, Father’s thoughtfulness, kindness and grace live on in the prayers he requested of two families.