Building the City of God: Father Michael Carruthers

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MICHAEL CARRUTHERS

Originally Published in January 2004
Born May 6, 1964, in Levittown, New York, his family moved to Jensen Beach when he was 8. He attended public schools and St. Martin de Porres Parish, and was studying at Indian River Community College when he decided to enter the seminary. Since his ordination, May 11, 1991, he has served as priest-secretary to both Archbishop Emeritus Edward McCarthy and Archbishop John C. Favalora, and as associate pastor at Epiphany Parish in South Miami and Immaculate Conception in Hialeah. He is currently studying fulltime at Florida International University, working toward a degree in exceptional student education with a specialization in autism.

When he knew he wanted to be a priest:
"I started thinking about it when I was in eighth grade. Throughout high school it was an idea that kept coming back to me. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but it definitely kept coming back. ... While there were many things that I could do and do well, this was the one thing where I felt I could give the best I had to give and be the most fulfilled."

What he would be doing if he had not become a priest:
His intended major in college was education. "It's very interesting that, these many years later, the church has come to me and asked me to fulfill a need by studying special education. So it's come full circle. In a sense, I gave that up to enter the seminary and now it has been given back to me."

Greatest disappointment:
"If you turn disappointments over to God, they don't become great. So I don't worry about those."

Greatest joy:
"Sharing with people in the important moments of their lives, the joyful ones as well as the sorrowful ones."

Most difficult aspect of being a priest:
"Being unable to meet the overwhelming needs that are being presented to you. Being unable to be in three places at once and wanting to meet those needs."

Priestly stereotype that should be discarded:
"That priests are supposed to be angels in human form rather than human beings who walk with the community."

"In a sense, I gave that up (a career in education) to enter the seminary and now it has been given back to me."

How others describe him:
"I've been told I have a raucous laugh." When he was at Epiphany, "it was a vocabulary word and the kids were not getting it. So the teacher said, 'Father Michael has a raucous laugh.' And the kids got it."

Life as a university student:
"It's neat not to have any sort of favoritism toward me. Because sometimes priests are treated with favoritism. It's nice to know that the grade I'm getting is because I'm working as hard as everybody else. ... Being at the university has helped me to see the importance of being a person, not just a persona. It's important for priests to be persons with their people. Jesus said, 'I know my sheep and mine know me.' Underline the 'mine know me' part because sometimes we forget that. The sheep also need to know their shepherd."

On dancing:
"When I first got to Immaculate, I had never seen a community that so loved to dance. I never danced.
I was terrified of dancing my whole life. But in order to be part of this community, I took salsa lessons. It was exercise. It was fun. And now I can dance with my community. They were all happily shocked. I'm still no good, but at least I'm not afraid anymore."

On the priestly commitment:
"To be a good husband and wife, you have to be desperately in love with your spouse. The priest also must be desperately in love, passionately in love, with God and the priesthood. It is the same commitment. We're called to a spousal relationship with God. It needs to be that deep and that real and that passionate. If it's only about what you do, then it's work. It's just a job, it's not a life. Being a husband or a wife is not only about what you do, but who you are because of your relationship to this other person. For a priest, it has to be the same."

Thing he most fears:
"Losing loving relationships. Becoming so busy that
I loose touch with those loving relationships, with families and friends that keep me human, that keep me real."

Person he most admires:
"My father because he was a decent man who worked very hard to provide for his family, to create a loving environment in his home, who was always willing to do things for other people without wanting recognition or thanks."