Fr. Don Geyman“Have you ever considered the life of a parish priest?” Those were the words that came from my radio as I was driving to work in January of 1990. Those were also the words
that changed my life forever.I really never considered the priesthood until I heard that radio commercial. Looking back however, I know that there were some important events that made me ready to hear that wonderful invitation.
I grew up in a very faithful Catholic family. Dad was an usher, mom was active in Christian Mothers, and I was an altar boy. I served Mass on Sundays, plus lots of funerals. Even with all this I never thought about becoming a priest. When I was fifteen, my dad died very suddenly. About a year later my oldest brother died also. So at a young age I had my faith put to quite a test. I had to really decide whether I believed all this stuff or not. Well, I did! These tragic losses served to strengthen my faith. My sense of Church as a community was also strengthened. I felt strong support from my parish community through the funeral Mass, and even the luncheon afterward. It was a very powerful thing to know that those people were there for you, and with you. I know this all was in the back of my mind when I heard that question on the radio.
After high school I entered the University of Michigan to study engineering. My life was all planned out; graduate in four years, get a good paying job, and go on hunting and fishing trips. A year later I had changed my major to business/accounting. I still graduated in four years, and took a good job offer. Then things changed.
After starting the new job a crisis developed in our family. One of my sisters began to lose control of her life to alcoholism. It was severe, she was really damaging her health. I wasn’t going to let her destroy herself. I had lost a father and a brother already. I couldn’t prevent their losses, but I could prevent this one, or so I thought. I would call her from work, and if I thought she was going to drink I would leave work and go sit with her. All the time off, with the stress, began to really hurt my job performance. I was a mess.
I decided to go to the family counseling where my sister was staying. That day changed my life. The counselor explained what it means to be a codependent. She also told me very bluntly that if my sister wanted to drink herself to death there was nothing I could do about it. I realized I was trying to play God. I thought I was in control of life, I had lost sight of my dependence on Him. I had forgotten who God was, and who I was not.
I remember feeling a tremendous weight lifting off my shoulders. It was o.k. not to be in control of everything! I needed to rely on His Grace more than my own will. My life was never the same after that. What I wanted out of life changed. I started letting God be God.
Less than two years later I was in the seminary. Looking back, I know that some of these difficult times in my life were also very important times. Had I not been through these struggles and quit trying so hard to control my life, I may have never been ready to hear that invitation that came over the radio that particular morning on my way to work..
“Have you ever considered the life of a parish priest?” I thank God every day I did.
Fr. Michael Janowski
Fr. Mike Janowski
I am the oldest of three children. My two sisters and I grew up in the
My parents fostered a home where personal prayer was an important priority. I can remember saying the rosary together and it was not uncommon to see my parents making time for personal private prayer at certain times of the day. We were also a family that had a lot of fun together too. I can remember some great camping trips in the great outdoors during summer vacations. We also enjoyed coming to my grandfather’s farm each summer too in
In the years I was growing up in
I spent the next four years in the formation program at Duns Scotus Seminary pursuing my bachelor’s degree with them. These were some very good years of my life that provided great opportunities, terrific friends and some very cherished memories. Ultimately I graduated from Mercy College of Detroit in 1981 with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Philosophy. The next step for me was to enter the novitiate program for the order at
While I had some initial butterflies I decided to travel to the novitiate house to take on the next phase of my formation for the Franciscans. I spent eighteen months in the novitiate. I also spent about six months of this in active ministry at
There were many ups and down at this point of my life. I had the support of my family and many friends who helped me tremendously through the process. One friend, a nurse, guided me to a career in healthcare and so I worked in the
I remember sitting in
Fr. Michael serves as Pastor at St. Mary Parish and High School in Lake Leelanau.
Fr. Paul Megge
Fr. Paul Megge
To the occasional irritation of his fellow officers, Deputy Paul Megge was always trying to save the poor souls in the cellblock. That was a lifetime ago...literally. Today, saving souls, in and out of jail, is Fr. Paul Megge's job. "I feel like I've been a priest all my life," said the pastor of St. Mary-St. Charles Church.
Fr. Megge's journey to a job that not only allows personal involvement, but frequently requires it, is filled with unusual twists and turns. In retrospect, the priest is convinced those occurrences were not coincidence but providential. God, he says, was moving in mysterious ways.
In December 1965, at the urging of a fellow auto production line worker in Pontiac, Megge moved with his wife and the first of their four sons to rural Tuscola County. After three years he successfully applied for a job as a Tuscola County sheriff's deputy. As he rose through the ranks at work, he also became involved in the church. Eventually he was promoted to lieutenant and then, under-sheriff. Then Megge’s marriage had unraveled, and he found himself divorced and unemployed. "I was devastated by the divorce and I was losing my job," Megge recalled.
And then, the sheriff in Lapeer County offered him the same job he had held in Tuscola. He moved and immersed himself in both a new job and a new parish. He became involved in the RCIA program. The faith of earlier life began to take on new meaning, some of nurtured in a High School seminary. His marriage now annulled, Megge was taking a lay ministry course. Considering priesthood was a step away. Not long afterwards Megge was on his way to Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners in January 1994. He had marked his 25th anniversary in law enforcement in August 1993. "I was 52 years old and everything in my life was falling into place," he recalled with a smile. "I spent five wonderful years in seminary."
Megge's sons - Gary, Michael, David and Adam - supported their father's decision to pursue the priesthood 110 percent. "Mike kept saying he would be able to call me 'my father, the father,'" Fr. Megge said. After completing seminary, Megge was assigned to Sacred Heart Church in Elk Rapids. The day after his July 1998 ordination as a deacon, he presided at the baptism of his granddaughter. That Dec. 19 he was ordained a priest and four days later he was on assignment as associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church, Traverse City. He was 58 years old. The summer of 2001 he was transferred to Cheboygan.
"Law enforcement gave me real knowledge on working with all types of people," Fr. Megge said, "from some of the finest people in the community to some of the poorest people with the most problems. "In the church we are dealing with all the same people - community residents, victims and perpetrators," he continued. "I think that, because of my background, it is easier for me to communicate and talk with all the folks." Despite dramatic changes in his life, Megge doesn't feel he has changed that much. "I am who I am," he said. "Although the bishop has laid his hands on me, I'm still Paul Megge. I'm still dad. I'm still a former cop. The Holy Spirit gives you the wherewithal to do your job, no matter what that job is."