Thursday, December 12, 2013

BIG NEWS - Msgr. Mike Sis (Former Pastor of St. Mary's) Named Bishop of San Angelo!

As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants. If there are any giants in the history of St. Mary's Catholic Center, then Msgr. Mike Sis is certainly one of them. Today he was named Bishop of San Angelo, by Pope Francis. As Rocco Palmo told me this morning on the phone, "Francis came to Aggieland".

Fr. Mike was assigned to St. Mary's in the summer of 1992 (and made Pastor in 1993), along with Fr. Dean Wilhelm as Associate Pastor (now the Pastor of the biggest parish in the Austin Diocese - St. William), Fr. Mike quickly won the hearts of the students and parishioners, with his smile and welcoming personality (and the way he starts counting with his thumb during a homily). He also found out that the facilities were old and inadequate. We frequently had to have meetings outside, due to the tight space.

Mud Lot Groundbreaking Ceremony
Fr. Mike led the effort, unequaled in the Austin Diocese at the time, to build a new
Student Center, Chapel, and Activity Center. The campaign brought thousands of donors together and taught the staff at St. Mary's how to form relationships with benefactors. Due to this success, St. Mary's grew astronomically from the mid 90s into the new Millennium. When Fr. Mike arrived arrived in the early 90s, the staff had four people. It now has more than 10 times that number!

Due to the first campaign's resounding success we continued to expand and grow even bigger. Today, we are (once again) so big we have no more room in our buildings and are in a campaign to expand to a size once unthinkable. 

Fr. Mike grew up in Bryan, TX - which borders College Station, for those of you who are not local. He received his 1st Communion with his friend, and our current pastor, Fr. David Konderla. He attended Notre Dame and then entered the seminary after college. He studied in at both the Gregorian and the Lateran in Rome. He was assigned to several parishes until he landed at St. Mary's. Since his time in Aggieland he has been Vocation Director for the Austin Diocese, pastor at a large parish, and Vicar General.

Known for being detailed-oriented and an extremely dedicated worker, Fr. Mike will frequently answer emails late at night and sometimes into the early morning hours. His work as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Austin has merely added to his reputation. Many consider him to be a model priest, which would explain why so many Aggies become priests and religious (135+) and we average around 10 students entering formation or seminary annually. The big wave started when he was pastor.

Fr. Mike at the site of Aggie Bonfire - where 12 Aggies died.
One of my best memories was when I was a student and he was a young priest (early 30s). I went to him struggling with my faith. I told him all the stupid things I had been doing. Somehow, he inexplicably told me to shape up and made me feel good at the same time. I walked out of his office feeling both a sense of purpose and happiness, knowing he had a keen pastoral touch, that thought with the mind of the Church. After I graduated we became friends. Once I started in campus ministry, he became a mentor to me.

Just a few weeks ago, he sent me his bio to post for our 100th Aggie Awakening Retreat Reunion and Conference. I wrote him back and told him it was the best bio I had read in a long time and that it brought a smile to my face.
It reads:
Msgr. Mike Sis is a priest of the Diocese of Austin. He served at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in 1989, and then from 1992 to 2005. He participated in various ways in all the Aggie Awakening retreats during those years.

He grew up in Bryan, Texas. He is the son of Ray and Jan Sis. His father was a professor in the Veterinary School at A&M, and his mother was the coordinator of religious education at St. Mary’s. When he was in the second grade, he made his First Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s Parish in Bryan, along with Fr. David Konderla.

While everybody knows that he loves the Aggies, he never attended Texas A&M. He received degrees from the University of Notre Dame, the Gregorian University and the Lateran University, and he was ordained a priest in 1986.

He was the pastor of St. Mary’s when the current student center was built, when we bought the Mud Lot, when Kappa Theta Beta was established, when Bonfire fell, when we applied for a federal license to get a radio station, when we first made those little maroon Aggie Catholic bumper stickers, when we did our first car raffle, when we got our first website, and when the Aggie football team had a Wrecking Crew defense.

After turning over St. Mary’s to the capable leadership of Fr. David Konderla, Fr. Mike served for a few years as the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin. He is currently serving as the Vicar General and the Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Austin. This is an administrative position where he oversees diocesan staff, assists Bishop Joe Vásquez, and learns something new every day.

He is an avid racquetball player, he is proud to be Catholic, and he considers the most precious treasure in his life to be his loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ordination of Fr. Brian Eilers
St. Mary's is excited and blessed to see Fr. Mike Sis join the rank of The Apostles. Please join us in praying for our former pastor and the soon-to-be Bishop of San Angelo, Michael Sis!

1 comment:

DMB said...

Whoop! This is awesome news indeed! All my prayers go with Msgr. Mike Sis and the Diocese of San Angelo.