Mireau changed the lives of students at St. Francis Xavier

Fr. Mike Mireau with his ever-present dog, Nemo.

Fr. Mike Mireau with his ever-present dog, Nemo.

October 6, 2014

Father Mike Mireau was the most important person in Sarah Oskobiny's life. The young chaplain was an inspiration to everyone in St. Francis Xavier High School, with his open door policy, willingness to listen, and a constant smile that brought joy to the students' lives.

"We will always remember him and he is always in our hearts," said Oskobiny.

Mireau, 42, died Sept.22 following a year and a half battle with cancer.

Dan Donnelly, principal at St. Francis, said of Mireau, "He would really make the kids question and look at their faith. He brought the Gospel down to their level, made it relevant to their lives at the moment.

"He was a kid at heart. He was able to bring in things of his love of Star Wars, Superman, intertwine the characters and help them understand God was love.

"He grew up with these kids" and when they graduated his remarks at their graduation were "personal and powerful," said the principal.

The young priest had a strong impact on people of all ages, and he connected with everybody at the school, said Donnelly.

"It was really nice to have somebody at the school that you could go to with whatever and he would be supportive."

Oskobiny said the young chaplain was an inspiration to everyone because of "the way he dealt with things. He was so strong and always smiling, joyful."

"We trusted him. He was wonderful at just getting down at all of our levels and relating the Bible and faith to what we are going through as teenagers. I know he helped many of us with our faith journeys and getting closer to God or even coming to believe in God for some of us."

Rebecca Lunde used to watch Mireau's sermons in junior high during religion class and finally met him when she reached Grade 10.

"He renewed my faith in God and that was a huge, huge thing. He really showed me that even though I might not go to Church every weekend and I might not pray every night, God is love and if I have love for people around me and for God that is what you need."

Lunde said Mireau changed her life.

"He showed me how to become a better person and have more power within myself . . . and to be happy. To live your life happy is the best way to live.

Fr. Mireau's 2002 ordination by Archbishop Thomas Collins

"I will continue to do that hopefully for the rest of my life. That is how much of an impact he has had on me. I'm upset. I realize I should be happy that I knew him, how much of a blessing he has been in my life and I should not mourn."

HAVING A BLAST IN HEAVEN

A smile creeps into her voice as she says "I'm praying for him and hoping he is having a blast in heaven."

Shaken by the funeral, two St. Francis Xavier students described what Mireau meant to them.

Jaedin Mandeville enjoyed his guidance for three years.

"He was really funny, different in a good way, easy to talk to." She was surprised when the cancer was terminal.

Tears spilled down her cheeks as she continued talking. "He was someone who had an impact on a lot of lives, like a hero to a lot of us. 'God is love' sticks with me now."

Daryn Leggo calls Mireau "the most incredible person I have ever met."

She first met him "when I came to St. Francis which would be Grade 11 for me. I was baptized before that but had never gone to Mass.

"He was just so different. He made it just so much fun. You always think a priest is strict. He made it fun. I never thought you could laugh at Church. He would bring students up to do skits. It would make us want to go to Mass with him.

"He had such a knack with connecting with people."

STRENGTHENED FAITH

Did he change her faith? "Absolutely. He made it much stronger. Being at that school made me want to get confirmed and I am now confirmed.

"He had a way of uniting the school just by being there. The whole school came together when he was in the hospital. You could tell there was something different.

"It (his death) has hit a lot of people really hard. Our school is going to be different without him. I graduate this year and I was really looking forward to having him at the Mass. But I know he will be with us in spirit."