Two years ago today, I stopped to visit Father Michael in the sacristy after he’d celebrated Mass for the Assumption. He was in quite a mellow and happy mood and told me that the date of August 15, 1981 was very memorable for him. This was the date that he had flown from Canada to enter the Dominican novitiate in Denver, Colorado. And because of the feast day, Father M felt that there was that special connection to the Blessed Mother. As I listened to his happy reminiscing, I saw it was obviously a very special memory for Father Michael.
Last year, Father Michael was leaving for a trip to visit family on this date. So I didn’t see him. I remembered that he’d said a close friend had been upset in 1981 that he would choose to minister in the United States rather than Canada. Father Michael had dual Canadian/American citizenship, but in his heart of hearts , he was a loyal Canadian. I’m sure that leaving his homeland was a difficult part of his decision. So I sent him a text thanking him for choosing to come to serve in my country and for the ‘yes’ of his priesthood. But I know for Father Michael, the true ‘draw’ of the Central Dominican Province was that they were truly like a family. That was so important for him. Father Michael cherished his family in Canada and came to cherish his Dominican family in the same way.
So today, I celebrate what began thirty-three years ago on that brave flight to Denver. I am so grateful for all that Father Michael brought to us.