Edmonton priest was ECS district chaplain and passionate supporter of Camp Encounter
Edmonton, September 23, 2014 ‒ The Catholic community is mourning the death of Father Michael (Catfish) Mireau, a priest of the Archdiocese of Edmonton and beloved district chaplain of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
Father Mike died late Monday night following a heroic battle with cancer – one he documented over the last two years in an inspiring and provocative series of videos at www.fathercatfish.com. He was 42.
The net-savvy priest had a particular gift for connecting with young people, peppering his preaching with pop culture references, costumes, props, and even his ubiquitous canine sidekick, Nemo. He drew particular inspiration from the First Letter of John in the New Testament, and took as his motto Deus est Caritas, or God is Love.
Archbishop Richard Smith said he was deeply saddened by the death of Father Mike “because of the loss this represents to me personally, to his brother priests, and to the people of the Archdiocese.
“He leaves a legacy of complete dedication to the priestly ministry, especially as it touches the lives of young people. At the same time, we all realize that his deepest hope is now reaching fulfilment, namely, being with the Lord forever. His joy tempers our sadness as we entrust his soul to the tender mercy of God.”
Father Mike had a great love for the outdoors, and once said his journey to the priesthood began during the summers he spent at Camp Encounter, one of two camps operated by the Archdiocese. He went on to serve there in a variety of leadership roles.
His nickname stemmed from childhood, when he used to draw cartoons of catfish with a friend. Later, when he needed to take a nature name at Camp Encounter, he chose Catfish.
Sandy Cornell, Director of Camp Encounter, said Father Mike had been a passionate supporter of the camp for 23 years.
“His compassionate and inspirational ministry enriched the lives of all he encountered,” Ms. Cornell said.
“We will all deeply miss his gift of spreading God's message in a way we could all relate to, whether through his homilies, walks around camp with Nemo, or his many character portrayals at theme dinners. His memory will live on. God bless you Catfish! God is Love!”
Michael Mireau was born in Edmonton and graduated from University of Alberta with a Master of Science in Mathematical Physics. After study at Newman Theological College and St. Joseph Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2002. He served as pastor at parishes in Edmonton, Leduc and Thorsby before his appointment to Edmonton Catholic Schools in 2010.
“Our hearts are saddened by the passing of our beloved spiritual leader, our district chaplain, our friend and colleague,” said Joan Carr, Superintendent of Edmonton Catholic Schools. “Affectionately known to students and staff as Father Catfish, Father Michael Mireau was known and loved in our district as a person with a deep understanding and passion for youth. Through his encounters with our young people and staff and through creative social media, he committed his life to show us all the beauty, importance and understanding of faith in our lives. ‘God is love’ will be etched in our minds forever.”
Vigil prayers for Father Michael Mireau will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 25, at St. Joseph’s Basilica.
The Mass of Christian Burial, presided by Archbishop Smith, will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Friday, September, 26, at the Basilica.