Humble Preacher

At St PiusFather Michael was a great preach­er. Once I returned to St Vin­cent Fer­rer Church for Sun­day Mass, I quick­ly learned to look for­ward to Father Michael’s hom­i­lies.  The first thing I noticed was Father’s rap­port with the con­gre­ga­tion. It often felt like a one-on-one homi­ly, there was always some­thing per­son­al to relate to in it. All present lis­tened atten­tive­ly. Then there was humor, and many kinds of emo­tions. Father Michael often detailed his many vis­its to the sick of the parish. He was moved by so much and often got choked up talk­ing of his expe­ri­ences. He was sen­si­tive enough to appre­ci­ate and con­vey how an attrac­tive woman under­go­ing can­cer treat­ment would feel about her altered appear­ance. He was tak­en aback by the extra­or­di­nar­i­ly hum­bling cir­cum­stances of peo­ples’ lives: Father Michael once vis­it­ed a parish­ioner car­ing for two bedrid­den  fam­i­ly mem­bers in her home. He said he could hard­ly breathe, he was so stirred by the sac­ri­fice and beau­ty of the love there. Noth­ing was lost on Father Michael. And he passed on his wise under­stand­ing in his preach­ing. And some­times Father’s exquis­ite descrip­tions of these things took my breath away!

Father Michael was so obser­vant and influ­enced by all he saw. He com­mut­ed to St Vincent’s three or more times per week. He trav­eled via the Eisen­how­er and got on it at  Ash­land Avenue.  In one homi­ly, he told of repeat­ed­ly see­ing one home­less man, who always approached Father’s car near the ramp. Father Michael told us “All he wants from me is a buck. He doesn’t ask any­thing more of me. So I give him that buck”. The man was like a dai­ly fix­ture that Father Michael looked for. One day the man was there but didn’t come to the car. Instead, he sat on side­walk; he had a com­pan­ion that day and Father Michael saw the man offer his paper bag’s con­tents to the oth­er fel­low. He told us “All I could think was how th

is was a holy man, that it was so impor­tant for him to share what he had with anoth­er. He was a holy, holy man”. Perspective…surely from the Spir­it.

I remem­ber one dai­ly Mass where Father Michael appeared very shak­en as he began his preach­ing. He was so upset. Appar­ent­ly some­one had made a remark to him about ‘real sis­ters’. The per­son had implied that sis­ters out of habit were not real. Well, Father Michael was not so much shak­en as angry. He was so indig­nant and yet so con­trolled! He just went down the list of all the ways that all sis­ters were the very vis­i­ble pres­ence of the Lord in all their activ­i­ties. I remem­ber in par­tic­u­lar Father Michael’s remark­ing about  the sis­ters’ devo­tion at Mass and at prayer each day. His voice was a lit­tle wob­bly, yet so elo­quent and lov­ing! Father Michael tru­ly appre­ci­at­ed all sis­ters.

My favorite homi­ly has a Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion twist. Father Michael had talked beau­ti­ful­ly to us about the com­fort and grace of that sacra­ment. Father end­ed with a sto­ry of a lit­tle boy who had just com­plet­ed his First Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.  Father Michael gave abso­lu­tion and told the lit­tle boy, “Well, all of God’s graces  and good­ness and love are show­er­ing down on you right now!” The lit­tle boy looked absolute­ly delight­ed at this and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly replied “I can FEEL it!!” Father Michael,himself delight­ed, told the lit­tle one “You know, you have just made my day!”

So many beau­ti­ful hom­i­lies. I hope that some­how some of them have been record­ed. I sup­pose there are many from wed­dings, if noth­ing else. I would like to think that some oth­er events with preach­ing from Father Michael have been record­ed and are ‘out there’. It seems like at least one per­son should have rec­og­nized that Father Michael had a very spe­cial gift. I cer­tain­ly hope so. It is easy to take these gifts for grant­ed and not expect to lose them.…

Here is a link to Father Michael’s homi­ly at St Pius on Feb­ru­ary 26, 2014, a month and a day before he died:

http://opcentral.org/follow-the-white-habit/2014/02/26/daily-scripture-february-26/

You may need to use a dif­fer­ent brows­er for this to load. It only works inter­mit­tent­ly on Fire­fox for me;Safari works bet­ter.

Also, here is a link to a reflec­tion Father Michael wrote:

http://opcentral.org/follow-the-white-habit/2014/03/13/lenten-reflection-march-13-esthers-anguish/