It’s been a year and yet in some ways, it seems like yesterday. Tonight at St Vincent Ferrer church, we will celebrate a memorial Mass in honor of Father Michael. As happy as I am that Father Michael is in Heaven, it still saddens me that he was lost to us so soon. And personally, I regret that I did not get to know Father Michael earlier. Two years is way too short a time, but I am grateful for what I had.
From its beginning, this blog has been an attempt to honor and remember Father Michael. And I have done my best to share what I know of him with all of you. I have always been truthful, which is why not everything you read here of Father M advertises his perfection. No, Father was not by any means perfect. He had his faults. But he was most certainly a holy, holy man and a true instrument of Our Lord. I’ve never met anyone like him; I know I’ll never meet his like again, at least in this life.
Over the course of this past year, fellow parishioners have periodically written about their experiences with and thoughts and feelings for Father Michael. I identified with each person’s story, the familiarity and truth of Father Michael came through in each essay. Every story was authentic and celebrated the lovely aspects of the character of Father Michael. How much he was loved! How much he is missed!
On this first anniversary of Father Michael’s death, I want to state a simple reason why he was so special to me. For me Father Michael just was kindness.He personified that fruit of the Holy Spirit. Sure, I’ve experienced my share of true kindness from many others in my life. It was there in my parents, my family, my friends, coworkers and sometimes strangers. It supported me and lifted me up. Experiencing kindness taught me how to be kind. It heightened my awareness of how little things, simple, kind acts can make a difference in people’s lives.
But the kindness in Father Michael just enveloped his whole personality. Whether talking or silent, laughing or serious, in Father Michael the kindness was always there. Gestures and words really weren’t necessary; somehow the kindness stood on its own with him. I just felt it. I could see it. It seemed to emanate from him. In my whole life I have NEVER felt kindness as sincere, as accepting, as loving, as warm, as dependable-as shown by Father Michael. To me this was the very tangible presence of the grace of God-that just could not be contained-but kindly reached out to all. I know that I will never experience this level of complete kindness from another person. It was another special gift of Father Michael.
We look for the Lord in each other. And usually, with effort, we do find Him. But with Father Michael, He was always right there…..no looking necessary.
I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me…