It was June 21, 1973 when nine of my classmates and I were ordained for the Redemptorists of the St. Louis Province. My greatest memories of ordination and ten days later celebrating my Mass of Thanksgiving are of the responses of so many people encouraging me as I began my life as a priest. One of my sisters asked if she had to call me Fr. Mike from now on. For my Mom, Dad and brothers and sisters, they learned to just call me Mike as always. It was not the same with my grandparents.
We drove from Wisconsin to Omaha the next day, and it was over 100º and our car did not have air conditioning. On arriving in Omaha, Dad told me to get a shower and dress in my suit and clerical shirt to go see Grandma and Grandpa. When we stopped at their house, Grandpa was dressed in suit and tie, standing at the door. When I got to the door he went to his knees and said, “Father, give me your blessing.” Both he and I had tears in our eyes as I blessed him. When he got up, he said to Grandma, “Ma, it’s your turn.” She said, “Oh, you silly old man. Let him come into the house. It is too hot out there.”
Since one of my classmates was also from Omaha, his Mass of Thanksgiving was the Sunday after our ordination. I waited for another week. After the Mass and giving first blessing to family, friends and parishioners we celebrated with having an outdoor dinner for all who could come in our backyard. We served over 700 dinners. My uncle Marty said, “Mike, I never thought you would make it.” Grandpa McAndrew grabbed uncle Marty by the collar and said, “It is Father Mike.” Grandpa McAndrew always called my “Father”.
My third-grade teacher flunked me in religion class, but when she asked for my blessing, she said, “I always knew that you would be a priest.”
Most of my friends and family became more and more comfortable remembering me as Mike and they kept me humble if I got too preachy with them. They would not let me be put on a pedestal as a priest, but I also knew that they respected the priesthood that God bestowed on me. I will be giving thanks to many who have blessed my journey as a priest. First, I thank my family, my neighborhood and school classmates for honoring the Redemptorist priesthood that I am blessed to be a part of.
Interview with Fr. Mike (redemptoristsdenver.org)
On November 9, 2022, Redemptorist Foundation Day, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Mission Matters interviewed Denver Province Redemptorist Fr. Michael McAndrew, C.Ss.R.
Fr. Mike has been engaged in ministry to Hispanic communities for over 30 years and is an outspoken advocate for ministry to migrant communities. He also writes the web blog Padre Migrante, and is author of the book Migrant Faith. Fr. Mike travels throughout the United States and parts of Mexico to offer pastoral and spiritual care for migrant workers and their families.
Megan Mio, host of the Mission Matters podcast, characterized the interview as an opportunity to reflect both on the faith of the migrants and, as well, our own faith in the face of the migrant crisis. In addition to information about the Redemptorists, the wide-ranging discussion covered Fr. Mike’s many years of ministry to the Hispanic and migrant communities and information on the changing nature of immigration and the crisis at the US-Mexican border and what we as Catholics can do to help.