Legatus is picture-perfect for Alabama chaplain
Birmingham chaplain FR. MICHAEL DEERING says ministering to Legatus is a delight . . .
Fr. Michael Deering
His father’s job forced the relocation of Fr. Michael Deering’s family from the South Side of Chicago to the Deep South when he was in his late teens. And he has dropped deep roots in Alabama. His degree in electrical engineering from Auburn equipped him for a longtime job in sales for Eastman Kodak. But the priesthood called, and he was ordained in 2002 at the age of 49. Today, Fr. Deering is pastor of two parishes and co-vicar general. He considers his Legatus chaplain role “not a duty, but a delight.”
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
The seed was planted in grade school. But I would have loved to have had a family just like my parents, who had five kids. That was my desire. Finally, after years in the workforce, I surrendered to a call that just wouldn’t go away. My mom cried. She was sad because I was considered the strength of the family, making good money. But my dad was all behind it: “If that’s where God is calling you,” he said, “that’s where you should go.”
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Bishop Robert Baker’s sister, Mary, is involved in a big way with the Legatus chapter in Canton, Ohio. She kept asking him to look into Legatus. In the summer of 2012, she and some other Legatus leaders met with him. I didn’t know about Legatus before he appointed me chaplain in October 2012, but I delight in it.
What impact has Legatus had in the Birmingham diocese?
The Birmingham area is only about 3% Catholic. The power of Legatus is its potential for uniting fellow Catholic leaders so they know they’re not alone, and that they come to realize the role their faith can play in their businesses and the community.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
Aside from growing large enough to charter, I’d like to see personal relationships develop that will encourage members to draw others into the fold. Also, that they appreciate how they’re role models to their employees and customers. They can have a big impact as they follow their calling to be ambassadors in the workplace.
I think it’s important to see chapter events not as another to-do item, but as a life-renewing experience. I liken meetings to Sunday Mass: If Mass is regarded merely as a duty, you might resist it. But if it’s a love affair, you’ll look forward to it.
I see my role as guiding members to realize the spiritual dimension of who they are and the good work they can do as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I say two prayers every day: “Lord, help me to catch up” and “Lord, help me to be the priest you want me to be.”
I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do exercise at least half an hour daily. And I can’t sit down to eat without reading. The National Catholic Register helps me to stay in touch with the world. I don’t own a TV.
Do you have any advice for business leaders?
Go to daily Mass. Years before I entered the seminary, I made daily Mass a goal and it quickly became addictive. It’s the most powerful way to beg God for guidance in the duties that are before you.
Like St. Augustine said, we’re all beggars before God. So why not beg with the greatest prayer we can pray, uniting our intentions and very being to the Father? Gently approach daily Mass, and soon you’ll be a regular.
MATTHEW A. RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.