It is 50 years to the day that Fr Michael Sheil SJ was ordained as a Jesuit priest. This is a remarkable milestone and those – very many – of us who have had the great pleasure of knowing Michael, whether for just a few or for all of these years, know how fully he has lived that vocation and continues to do so now, as his long service to his beloved Clongowes shows no sign of slackening!
Michael has always seen his role in schools as pastoral, as an expression of his priesthood, and he has been tireless in serving those committed, in one capacity or another, to his care. This has been reflected in all the schools where he has worked, and most especially here in Clongowes; in his faithful ministry every summer in France; in his work for the Children’s Trust Pilgrimage in Lourdes; and in so many other ways and so many other places.
Whatever the task, Michael brings the same energy and passion and, above all, humanity and pastoral commitment as a priest.
As we all know, Michael likes to reference the great former secretary-general of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold, who once wrote: ‘For all that has been – thanks. To all that shall be – Yes’. This seems an appropriate moment to apply those words to Michael himself and say them to him on behalf of all of us.
I am sure that the Clongowes family, new and old, near and far, join me in saying to Fr Michael Sheil SJ: ‘Ad multos annos!’