Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 22, 2002
Joy spills over this priest to be
He thought God wanted him to be a rocket scientist
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
When Michael Mireau was ordained deacon, his signature khakis, T-shirt, wool socks and sandals were all changed to the Roman collar, semi-formal slacks and shoes.
Two things remained: the colour of his beard that matches his shoulder length hair - which is usually tied in a ponytail - and the wooden cross that hangs on his neck.
If he shed the collar, one could still mistake him for a university student. Although a clergyman, he doesn't believe in a stereotypical image of a priest.
"The fact is, priesthood is realized in individual people. And every one of them is going to be different. Some of the differences would be more obvious than others," Mireau told the WCR.
There will be differences in personal taste, appearance, many things. But the minute a priest drops his individual identity and becomes "the priest," Mireau believes he stops being human.
"Because of that, he stops being an effective priest."
Mireau's ideal priest is someone who is "one of the people," someone whom the people can relate to and someone who does not put a divide between the ordained and the lay people.
This deacon, who will be ordained priest by Archbishop Thomas Collins on April 30 at St. Joseph's Basilica, maintains "everybody looks weird nowadays. Everybody looks different.
"I think, to an extent, people look at me and they see - not just because of the long hair, but because of every aspect of my appearance - that I'm one of them. And that's what I have to be. That's what a priest has to be. He has to be one of them, because that's what Christ was. He's one of us."
Mireau has been thinking about the priesthood all his life. But, unlike others, he did not pursue it straight out of high school.
Instead, the 29-year old math enthusiast decided to come to the seminary after completing his master's degree in mathematical physics from the U of A.
He thought it was God's plan for him to be a rocket scientist.
So he taught calculus at his alma mater. While teaching, he remained active in the parish life of St. Joseph's College where he was heavily involved in different capacities since his college days, although he never resided at the college.
He followed that with four years as spiritual director at Camp Encounter in Lac La Nonne.
The idea of a religious calling slipped in and out of focus in Mireau's life, until the call became clear enough to prompt him to apply to enter the seminary.
He liked the idea of working for God. "I have that idea, that God is my employer, God is my boss. But really my being led to the priesthood is totally congruent to my way of living out the Gospel."
One of the exciting moments of his days at Newman College and St. Joseph Seminary was studying theology itself.
With his background in math and science and having written modern cosmology and the Big Bang theory for his masteral research paper, studying theology became a passion for Mireau.
Having studied Albert Einstein and other scientists who explored creation scientifically and then later learning what theologians have to say, Mireau found "it's easier to integrate (science and theology) than most people think."
While at Newman College, Mireau served the students' council four times as president, treasurer, senate representative and chair of the pastoral committee.
When he finished his master of divinity degree with honours, he was also awarded the Joseph MacNeil Outstanding Achievement Award.
Preparing for his ordination is hectic, said Mireau, but he is more excited about the priesthood itself. "I love it. Priesthood excites me and I can't wait."
At the moment, Mireau works at the Liturgical Commission Office and on the weekend, he helps Father Paul Terrio in the Villeneuve region.
He also works at changing the image of priesthood as a sacrifice. "There's a lot of joy in priesthood, "said the about-to-be-ordained priest. "The joy comes from the idea of getting into a community. I just love the people in the community. Just love them."