Michael Haney admits that his journey to becoming Catholic hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it. Michael and his wife, Katie, attend St. Anthony Parish in St. Cloud with their 9-month-old daughter, Mariana Clare.
Michael, 34, who had a Protestant upbringing, began exploring the Catholic faith when he was seeking marriage to a Catholic woman. The couple went through marriage preparation, were married and Michael became Catholic. Through a friend, Michael, originally from Alexandria, was introduced to St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud and began to attend the parish.
“Unfortunately, God works in mysterious ways,” Haney said. “We ended up getting divorced. When the divorce happened, the parish here really helped me through things. I knew that the Catholic faith was who I was, and everybody here really supported me. I went through the annulment process and received a lot of healing to become the man I needed to be to make me worthy of Katie.”
Katie and Michael met at St. Anthony’s through a mutual friend and are very active in the parish. Michael started by greeting at the door for about a year and slowly became more involved, serving a three-year term on the parish council and heading up the parish fall festival for three years. He also serves as a lector, usher, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and as a altar server once a week at daily Mass.
“The joy that is in this parish is unbelievable. It’s a fun parish to be a part of,” he said. “Where I am today is because of the prayers and support of everyone here. They were so happy when Katie and I got engaged and married and ecstatic when Mariana came along.”
Fellow parishioner Joan Heider nominated Michael for The Visitor’s Youth and Young Adult award. He is the June winner.
She is especially impressed with his willingness to share his faith, including helping start a group of young adults in the St. Cloud area who meet regularly for prayer and fellowship.
Father Tom Knoblach was the main celebrant at Michael and Katie’s wedding and a year later, baptized Mariana.
“He inspires many by his humility, his sincere faith, his love for God and his willingness to be of service with generosity and optimism,” said Father Knoblach, pastor of St. Anthony’s.
Michael’s advice to other young people is to “surround yourselves with people who can strengthen your faith. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
“Being a convert, there are a lot of things that happen in Catholic Mass or different areas of the church that I was nervous to ask questions about,” he said. “I thought that now that I was Catholic, I should know everything. [Katie’s] faith is so much deeper than anyone I had ever known. To see her faith, her family and her friends, really helped me to deepen my own faith. She made me feel comfortable asking those questions.”
He also recalled a time when he did not know what the adoration chapel at St. Anthony’s was all about. He mustered up the nerve to ask another parishioner about it.
“She grabbed me by the arm and took me into the chapel right then and there. So it is finding people who will help answer those questions and having the courage to ask,” he said.
Michael said it has been a “shaky path” to get where he is but “God’s got a plan.”
“I really believe that in my first marriage we weren’t ready to commit to each other like we needed to be to get married,” he said. “I had to go through that pain and suffering to really become who God wanted me to be. And then I met Katie. Once you surrender your life to the Lord, great things happen.”
More about Michael
Name: Michael Kevin Haney
Where you live now: St. Cloud
Current parish: St. Anthony Parish, St. Cloud
Occupation: D.J. Bitzan Jewelers
Book on your bedside: “Building Better Families” by Matthew Kelly
Movie you could watch over and over: The new “Beauty and the Beast”
Saint who inspires you: St. Joseph. As a husband and a father I imagine he overcame all the stresses and worries that I have by trusting God. Padre Pio has also surrounded my marriage and I greatly admire him.
Favorite app: YouTube because it is how I learn to fix or do just about anything.
Prayer you love: The luminous mysteries of the rosary
In your spare time, you can be found: I love to fish, go exploring, visit friends and spend time with my family.
A pizza isn’t perfect unless it has: Pizza is wonderful in just about every flavor.
If you could be a superhero or cartoon character, you would be: Captain America
Favorite Bible verse or story: Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” This is a verse that I often carry with me in all I do.
You couldn’t drive by which restaurant without stopping: Krispy Kreme
Your favorite thing about being Catholic is: I love the fact that you can travel anywhere and find the solid rock of the Catholic Church. I have attended Mass all over our nation and every time, I visit a new church and find great people who do amazing things for the Lord. You have a faith family everywhere you go and will always be welcomed. Through this so many blessings and miracles happen.
Let your voice be heard
Q: What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?
A: Being a husband and a father is what I have wanted all of my life. I am so amazed at the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me through my wife and daughter. I cannot really say that they are my accomplishment, but they are my greatest vocation in my life at this time. I try every day to be the best husband and father I can be. It is only through the Lord that I am able to be worthy of them.
Q: What is one gift you think you bring to the church?
A: Joy! I have so much joy in me because of my faith and those I share my faith with. I love to share smiles, hugs, stories and my family with all I can.
Q: What is one gift the church could give you?
A: The church gives me more abundant blessings than I could ever be worthy of. I get so much more back than I give and am very thankful for every bit of it. I could not ask the church to do any more than it already does for me.
Q: If you had the opportunity to talk with Pope Francis, what would you tell him?
A: It would be hard to tell him anything. I feel like it would be better to listen to him.