Priest, organizer, educator and citizen of the world. All describe Father Michael’s life of service.
He first served as a parish priest in Kansas City before becoming campus chaplain at Central Missouri State University and University of Missouri Kansas City consecutively. He also was involved in the organization of Catholic University Chaplains nationwide.
In 1974, Father Michael was invited to serve five years as part of the church’s mission in Bolivia —he stayed for almost 40 years. “I became increasingly experienced with helping the native Aymara people develop churches, schools and related programs,” he recalls. “The need was great because thousands of Bolivians were migrating to the cities. We had about 20,000 people in our parish when I arrived, but more than 50,000 when I left in 2012.”
Working with a Catholic sister who was a great organizer, Father Michael expanded and improved the schools and educational opportunities in La Paz, Bolivia’s administrative capital. “My experience as a university chaplain proved providential when our first class of high school graduates expressed desire for a university ministry,” he says. “We worked with Bolivian civic leaders and the state university in La Paz to start one, and it’s going strong today.” He kept people in the U.S. informed by writing for the World section of the National Catholic Reporter.
Today, Father Michael writes books, stays involved with Spanish-speaking parishes in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and enjoys camaraderie with other retired priests. “Serving others is a blessing,” he says.