Only a week has gone by since I started my time as the parish’s new Director of Operations, and it already feels like I’ve been here for much longer. Everyone I have met has welcomed me warmly and quickly made me feel like part of the family. The love of Christ and for each other shines out clearly, and I am humbled that you have offered that to me.
My journey to your doorstep has been long in the making, and I’d like to share some of it with you today.
I grew up in western New York State as the oldest of four in a deeply Catholic family. Whether it was the daily family rosary, dinner table debates on catechetical topics, being an “on call” altar server for weddings, or playing CYO basketball, my life growing up revolved around the Church. The summer when I was 17, I left home to discern a possible vocation to religious life and spent a couple of years as a novice before “returning to the world,” so to speak.
After college, I entered the US Army and led soldiers for seven years, which included two tours in Iraq. After that I got my MBA and went to work as a consultant in the financial services industry in New York City. These experiences were very different from the first twenty years of my life. While they equipped me with many skills that I believe I can turn to the service of the parish, they had real negative impacts on me as well. Life in the Army and being “on the line” in the Middle East followed by the ultra-materialist environment of big banking in New York challenged my faith in nearly every way. Sadly, the world and its trappings had taken center stage in my life.
There is a famous poem called the “Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson that describes the relentless pursuit of God for a soul, no matter how hard the soul tries to avoid being caught. I could always hear those footsteps behind me. By His Grace, I moved to Arkansas and began working for a retailer. I began to find peace again and began the path to recenter myself on Christ and His Church.
At the beginning of this year, God’s call to serve the Church began to ring loudly, and I became open to finding a way to integrate faith and work. At exactly the right moment, I connected with an old friend who is in ministry here in Michigan. Through her, I met Fr. Peter Clark, a retired priest here in Michigan. I decided to take a trip to Ann Arbor to meet up with my old friend and meet Fr. Peter in person. Not long before I left, and by seeming coincidence, I came across the job posting for the Director of Operations here at St. John. Lo and behold, Jackson was just a half hour away! I came to Mass here, met Fr. Chas and Shayne, and began the interview process.
I am thrilled and humbled to be welcomed into your community. I ask you for your prayers that I may serve you well.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome Michael to St. John Parish and are thankful for his presence on our team!