LETTER OF INTRODUCTION FROM FR MICHAEL
Greetings friends of St. Leo Abbey,
My name is Father Michael Owen, and I am a new postulant here at St. Leo. I was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, the seventh of ten children. Our Catholic faith was always at the forefront throughout my childhood; daily Mass and rosary with the family, stories from the Bible and Catechism trivia games! One day, in first or second grade, our parish priest came into our classroom to talk about vocations. When he asked if anyone ever thought about being a priest, I was the only one who raised my hand! That thought and desire, while sometimes hiding in the background or being blatantly ignored, never went away… what a blessing to be able to have my dream job!
For high school, I had the great privilege of attending Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, Illinois. Along with a quality education and a solid formation in discipline, my time at Marmion also exposed me for the first time to the lifestyle and spirituality of the Benedictines. The monks at Marmion were my teachers, counselors, and friends. They showed me the agony and the ecstasy of a life given completely to Jesus Christ.
My love for college football and my desire for warmer weather led to me enrolling for undergraduate studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. My first few weeks at the U were rough. I was pre-med, which meant all my classmates were competing with me for a spot in medical school! I was homesick and lonely. And of course, that’s when September 11th happened, which brought on a whole new existential crisis: why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Is this all there is, or is there something more?
It was during that tumultuous time that I found the local Catholic parish. I began going back to Mass daily as I did throughout my childhood, and found myself once again in the loving embrace of our good and gracious God. One day, while sitting in adoration, I made a pledge to the Lord; “If this is what you want from me, then I will be a priest for you. I give myself to you.” Upon graduation from Miami, I enrolled in Seminary at St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. After completing my studies there, I was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 23, 2009.
There have been so many wonderful moments over these past 9+ years of priesthood. Baptisms, funerals, marriage preparation, teaching the kids in the school, RCIA and adult faith formation; preaching, governing, and sanctifying. Throughout these years, however, that itch of the Benedictine spirituality has been building up at the back of my mind, and I feel that I finally need to scratch it, once and for all! When I told my dad that I was thinking about joining a religious community, he only had a single response; “Make sure you go some place warm so I have somewhere to go when it snows.” Later that day, I asked Google to show me all the Benedictine monasteries in Florida. Wouldn’t you believe it; St. Leo is the only one!
Dear friends, I ask you for your continued prayers as I make this transition from diocesan to monastic life. Already, I feel the strings of pride and selfishness trying to pull me back into the world! I miss my freedom, my fast food, my days off. For all that I have ‘lost,’ however, I realize all the more how much God has bestowed upon me. This is where God wants me to be for now, and if it be His will that I remain here the rest of my days, then God’s will be done!
Please know that you are in my prayers. If you have any specific intentions, please email me at Fathermichaelowen@gmail.com, and I will be sure to add them to my prayer list.
The peace of Christ be with you all.
Fr. Michael OSB – 2B!