The following obituary was written by Fr Peter Wright and appeared in the Shrewsbury Diocesan Year Book 2009.
Michael Gerard McCormack was born on 26th August 1963, the youngest of four children. He attended St Joseph’s College, Garbally Park and briefly attended St Patrick’s, Thurles before joining the novitiate of the Augustinians in Ballyboden. Studies at Milltown College followed where Michael obtained a degree in Theology. He then applied to the Shrewsbury Diocese and under Bishop Joseph Gray was selected, finally being ordained in St Michael’s, Ballinasloe, where he had received all the sacraments, on the Feast of the Assumption, 15th August 1994.
Michael’s first appointment was in the Cathedral where he spent seven happy years developing his skills as an inventive, caring pastor. He served briefly in St Alban’;s, Liscard and was then appointed as Parish Priest ot Holy Spirit, Runcorn in 2002, accepting a second parish, St Martin’s, two years later.
It was in May 2007 that Michael was diagnosed with aggressive Lymphoma. Chemotherapy was started immediately in Liverpool Royal Hospital. Even during his time on the ward Michael continued his priestly ministry, supporting, praying with and handing out rosary beads to the other men on the ward. This reminded Michael’s family of his visits on the way home from school to the hospital to visit neighbours and friends. In spite of the care he received, secondaries had formed in the central nervous system and Michael died on Sunday, 28th October 2007.
But who was this man and preist who died so young? Parishioners praise Michael’s ministry for raising their self-esteem, encouraging them to realise that it is the Spirit of Baptism that calls and gifts them for service in Church and society. When presiding at Mass it was obvious to all that liturgy was enlivened by Michael, just as liturgy enlivened Michael. Through the Gospels and Prophets Michael had a keen sense of justice: each parish became ‘Fairtrade’, so that “…we can drink our tea and coffee with a clear conscience!”. Lenten CAFOD lunches quickly followed.
Michael referred to journey often – the journey of life, with the Spirit, to become our true selves, the journey to the eternal Kingdom of Life. The journey calls us to change and Michael changed often on his journey encouraging those around him to allow the journey to change them too. In May 2003 Mike and I undertook a very special journey: the Pilgrimage from Seville to Santiago de Compostela. This pilgrim journey affected Michael profoundly: he changed and grew as a disciple; rejoiced in the beauty of countryside; the variety of food eaten on mountainsides and in simple bars; the overwhelming generosity given by God’s good people to the pilgrim. There was sheer joy as we arrived in Compostela and Mike’s great laugh echoed around the square. The Pilgrimage was completed. Really? It was after all, only a pause – a stopping place on the journey. The pilgrim song, Yann Derrien, graced Michael’s requiem.