While presiding at mass at Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie, Father Michael Byron refused to sit in a chair on the predella.
Byron, on the other hand, sat in a pew with the rest of the crowd.
“He would walk up to the altar when the ritual required it, but otherwise he was sat with the congregation,” Carol Bishop, Pax Christi’s parish director, said. “He was simply one of the people.” He was adamant about the concept that “we” are the church. He was passionate about the people’s baptismal call, and he believed that it was this common call that truly united us as a community.”
Byron was a member of the Church of St. Pascal Baylon on St. Paul’s East Side from 2012 until 2018. He had previously served for eight years at the Church of St. Cecilia in St. Paul.
According to Marie Grimm, a longstanding member of St. Pascal Baylon, Byron, also known as “Father Mike,” had a flair for making the Gospel relatable to individuals. She explained, “He spoke directly to us and talked about how to apply the gospel to our lives.” “He didn’t come from some opulent palace in the sky.” He genuinely wanted to be a part of us.”
According to Grimm, Byron was also noted for his amazing Irish tenor singing voice. “He took an active role in the singing portion of the services. He would sing folks into paradise at funerals.”
Bishop, who knew Byron for more than 30 years, said that Byron’s homilies, which he would write by hand on a legal pad, “nearly always featured a tale that would link to his message.” “It’s always been relatable.” Father Mike, according to one of our parishioners, was a pastoral theologian whose preaching pronoun was ‘we.’ That, I believe, perfectly expresses it. He wasn’t preaching to the congregation.”
According to Bishop, Byron was a major supporter of the Pax Christi’s lay leadership. Byron “would always be the last to speak” at community council sessions, she added. “He wanted to hear what others had to say first.” He was always careful to ensure that he wasn’t interfering with the discourse and that the people’s voices were heard.”
Bishop said she didn’t hesitate when Byron contacted and asked her to come work at Pax Christi a year and a half ago after officiating at her wedding, her husband’s burial, and administering final rites to her father. “I was ready to drop and go, whatever he required,” she added, adding that it may have been Jesus calling the Apostles.
In an email to parishioners, Bishop said, “Mike wasn’t one to work the room.” “He’s not gregarious in the least.” His gift manifested itself in one-on-one interactions. If you had that wonderful chance for him to be present to you, you will never forget it. With his personal warmth, humility, intelligence, brilliance, magnificent voice, and dry Irish humor, he has impacted so many people.”
Byron was raised in Edina and attended St. John’s University, St. Paul Seminary, and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he earned his doctorate in theology.
His passion of learning led him to teach at the Academy of Holy Angels, St. John’s University, St. Catherine University, and the St. Paul Seminary, according to his obituary.
Byron also served the Church of the Assumption in Richfield and St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis, in addition to Pax Christi, the Church of St. Pascal Baylon, and the Church of St. Cecilia.
A Christian Burial Mass will be held at Pax Christi on Thursday at 11 a.m., with viewing from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.