Everybody has a Mike Tegeder story to share. Many are finding solace in sharing their unique memory of this controversial man whose memorial and funeral services are scheduled for this week. Father Michael Tegeder, for many years a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, died July 9 at age 68 – much too young, too young to live the full life deserved, too young to reach all of those who might have benefited from his generous spirit, and too young to reap the benefits of the clergy pension plan, just one of the many causes he found time to champion.
At the time of his death “Father Mike” was pastor at two Minneapolis churches – Gichitwaa Kateri, serving an American Indian congregation, and St. Frances Cabrini, a small progressive community on Franklin Avenue.
Stories about Father Mike’s “disagreements” with the archdiocesan hierarchy are legion, many but not all surrounding Archbishop Nienstedt’s position – and actions – related to the anti-gay marriage campaign. Such stories make the press and characterize the priest as some sort of firebrand, hostile to authority in general, his boss in particular.
The narrative that didn’t make the headlines is of a man who cared deeply, and who acted with compassion when he knew of a fellow woman or man in need. As one colleague observed, “It was common for him to receive a call from someone in need and drop everything to respond personally. He wouldn’t say ‘I’ll put it on my calendar and get to it.’ It immediately became his focus no matter what…. He didn’t delegate it to somebody.” Though the world will never know the reach of his generous spirit, there are countless in the community who felt his touch.
A truly good man is hard to find – and even more difficult to fully comprehend. The narrative may be best told by the man himself. Peter Shea, a friend of Father Mike – and a man who has a special way with a camera – interviewed Father Tegeder in 2012 – with the video camera running. The result is a quiet, thoughtful, personal narrative, shared by the subject – thoughts on the experiences of his childhood and coming of age years, his memories of the parishes he served during his ministry, an quiet hour of reflections that are universally positive, full of faith, hope and, above all, charity.
Peter has judiciously edited and generously posted the hour-long interview on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeNNeC-8No0
Viewers who knew Mike well will know him better as they think about the many facets of this complex man; those who knew him from headlines only, will reflect on what inspired a good man to share his life and, by doing so, to create a better world.
With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidencein one’s ability, one can build a better world. ~ Dalai Lama