I sat down with Fr. Michael Friedel to get to know him and his ministry. We are excited to welcome him to our community!
Where were you born/raised/family life?
I was born and raised in East Alton, IL, and my home parish is Holy Angels in Wood River. My parents, Joe and Trish, patiently raised me and my brother, Daniel (who is 13 months older than me), sending us to Catholic grade school and high school. I am truly blessed to have such a good family, and I think we’re all enjoying learning what having a priest in the family looks like!
What was college like for you and when did you discern the priesthood?
I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. I graduated with that degree in 2011, immediately before entering seminary at Mundelein. I spent two very happy years there before making the journey to Rome for theological studies—where I’ve been for the past five years.
As for how I ended up in seminary—your guess is as good as mine! I got very involved in St. John’s Newman Center on the campus of U of I. There, I met some of the most authentic people I’ve ever met—men and women, in a secular collegiate setting, who were earnestly striving to be what God wanted them to be. Somewhere between that and a bit of disenchantment with chemical engineering, I realized that God was flooding my heart with peace and joy in the opportunities I had to serve Him and the Church. After a period of repeating “yeah, but Lord…,” I decided to apply for seminary, and I’ve not regretted it for a second.
Who influenced you in considering a vocation to the priesthood?
The list is long! My family, first and foremost. Without the guidance and support from my parents, the seedbed of my vocation might never have been. My brother was actually in seminary and discerning religious life for several years, so thanks to his courage in pursuing God’s will for him, seminary didn’t seem so strange for me. I also had several priests growing up who showed me that priests aren’t completely unrelatable (which I was wont to think as a grade/high schooler). Finally, I’d say my spiritual director at University of Illinois, who was an amazing priest who encouraged me to pursue priesthood. His example and joyful presence in those initial moments of discernment was huge.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have seen over four hundred different species of wild birds in my life.
What are your favorite movies/shows?
I don’t make a lot of time for television or movies, but I like to joke that my taste in television most closely resembles that of an old man. I’m a huge fan of “Jeopardy!”.
Any special talents or favorite hobbies?
I love traveling! I have always enjoyed singing and being in choirs. I also enjoy cooking, though I don’t make much time for it. Growing up, my family and I were avid birdwatchers, which took us to many national parks and beautiful scenic places around the country.
What do you like most about being a priest?
Although they were the things I most feared entering seminary, two of my greatest joys are preaching and hearing confessions. Celebrating Mass I also find to be a uniquely intense moment of communion with God and His Church. Definitely, though, part of what got me thinking about ministry was the way that I felt God calling me to live my life in communion with others and service to the People of God—so I have found ministry to be very fulfilling, in both regards!
Favorite spiritual book/podcast/website you frequent?
“He Leadeth Me” by Walter Ciszek. If you haven’t read it, do it! My favorite podcast is definitely Catholic Stuff You Should Know, partly because I’m good friends with two of the priests who do the podcast (although to be honest, I spend months away from it and then tend to binge episodes).
What advice would you give to a young man who is contemplating a vocation to the priesthood?
Trust the Lord’s plan for you. Talk about it (especially with priests or other people who might be thinking about it). Invest a little in the Church and discover how amazingly life-giving a true and fulfilled life in the Church really is. God’s plan for us is always way more incredible than anything we could ever plan for ourselves, and so I promise you that—even if it isn’t always easy —if God is calling you, you will find peace and joy in a way you never thought imaginable. It’s an amazing life, no matter what His plan for you is. Follow Him and trust!
Katie Price is the Coordinator of Stewardship and Discipleship at the Cathedral. She can be reached at the Parish Offices, 522-3342 or via email at [email protected].