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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Unseen Path
Fr. Michael Andrew Picard

Fr.  Michael Andrew Picard
Fr. Michael Andrew Picard
For many it is not an easy choice. For me however, I had a perfect image in my mind of what I was looking for. I searched for a brief period of time going here and there. I encountered some that were close, but not quite it. Then in May, 1999, I found it: the perfect ring, and the joy it brought me after searching so long and finding exactly what I was looking for. We had been dating for about seven years, and we both had great aspirations for a family. However, it had also been seven years, when, in an unsuspected manner, God called me to the priesthood. There are many paths in life, and it is not always easy to know which one to follow. With a generous heart, we must trust in Christ, who will guide us down the correct road.

First Steps

I grew up in a very simple Catholic family. I went to public school my whole life and lived a very ordinary childhood: going out fishing with my dad on the lake behind the house, T-ball and baseball, tackle street football with the neighbourhood kids (even though I was one of the youngest around), and playing in the woods looking for new adventures. Looking back over the years I can see how God was preparing me from the very early ages, even though I did not realize it until much later. One of earliest prayers I learned was the Rosary. I often saw my mom praying the daily Rosary on her knees, and it made a big impact on me. I remember asking my mom what she was doing and asking her to teach me how to pray the Rosary. Like most kids, I did not acquire the habit right away, but praying the Rosary did come about during key moments of my life. Prayer was never something constant for me, but was present even in my earlier years. Something else I did not really understand, but I was always intrigued by, was the consecration of the Eucharist. I did not understand what was actually taking place, but the words of the consecration always stuck with me. I also remember my family “bribing” me to be an altar server. They talked about how every year there was a trip for altar servers in the diocese to places such as Disney World. Well, with my luck those trips never happened during my years as an altar boy, but by God’s grace and providence, I did remain an altar boy through my high school years. This was the main grace which kept me close to the Church.

The Rugged Road

Entering into junior high, I tried to fit in with the right crowd and faced many interior struggles. I was a bit on the quiet side, but made friends with everyone. I was also very reflective and always wanted to know everything that was going on. Though I had many graces present in my life, my faith was very fragile. I would even skip going to Mass when I could, sleeping in just long enough for my mom to pull out the driveway. It was not that my faith was not existent, but that it had no roots in my life and was drying up very quickly. I found myself asking the fundamental questions in life—What is this life about? Does God really exist? Why this and why that?—but I found no answers. I lived day to day without a clear direction in life. I wanted clarity, and I felt that I was in the dark. Even there, in the toughest years, God was at work in my soul. Through a youth group at the church I was kept from drifting too far away. This fact helped me to be around people with a more positive influence, and I probably avoided a good number of regrettable situations.

Path of Conversion

At the beginning of eighth grade I ended up going to a Christian concert with the youth group. It was a little on the charismatic side, and it was there that I heard God’s call for the first time. I did not fully understand this call, for my faith was weak and barely hanging on. However, it was in that moment, for the first time in my life, that I experienced the loving embrace of Christ in a very special way. His call, “Be my priest,” came to me not as a mysterious voice or anything like that, but an interior call. My response was a simple one: “Me, Lord? How could I possibly be a priest?” Yet with the grace of generosity I added the second part: “Yes, Lord, whatever you want, but may you increase my faith and
Fr.  Michael Andrew Picard
Fr. Michael with his brothers and niece during summer of 2009
help me come to know you.” I never said no to Christ’s call, but as time went on I did often question if he was really calling me to be a priest or just to be more active in my faith. I preferred the latter. It is true that I felt compelled to reach out and help others. Would it not be enough to raise a good Catholic family and volunteer at the church? Possibly even become a deacon? Besides if I had a really big family, there might be two of my sons who could become priests. To have two vocations is better than one, right? I always wanted to be an architect. I had my own dreams and desires. I was very good at saving up money and was rather self-sufficient. I wanted to get married and have a big family, get a good education, and work my way up to having my own architectural firm. One project I had always on my mind, among many, was to build a church. What I did not realize is that this was a seed in my vocation. God was calling me to build the Church, just not in the way I thought I would.

My high school years were a period of growth in my faith after the call. I returned to the Sacrament of Confession after being away for about 5 years. I also came to know Christ in the Eucharist and the meaning of the Mass from an experience I had in a retreat. I started going to adoration, and then I began going to Mass, not as something I had to do, but as something I wanted. Even so, it was never clear cut for me what God wanted. I had a call and inclination to the priesthood, and yet at the same time I really wanted to have a family and a career. I had a girlfriend, who I also met during my eighth grade year. We became very close and dated practically all through high school. I experience a constant back and forth between married life and priesthood. There were moments I felt more called to the married life and other times a strong inclination to the priesthood. Sometimes I would just surrender and say, “Lord, just tell me what you want!” I knew what I wanted, but even more so, I wanted to be faithful to his will. I realized after a while that I would only find fulfilment in life by following God’s will.

What also guided me through the years was the perpetual adoration chapel. For most of my high school years there was a weekly youth Holy Hour that I would always attend. Especially during my senior year, I would often go for about an hour of adoration on my own, sometimes late at night on my way home from work or being out with friends. There, before Christ, I prayed for his grace to show me the right path. It was not an easy process, but I took everything a day at a time and constantly placed myself before Christ. I was able to find peace in this way.

The Decisive Moment

In May, 1999, the decisive moment came. I prepared to propose to my girlfriend. The night before the proposal, I was in adoration and I ended with a prayer to Mary placing myself in her hands. (Mary had a key role throughout my life in many ways, which is a whole other story.) I said to her, “I want to be faithful to God’s will; I know at times I have felt called to the priesthood, but I just do not know. Right now it seems like God could be calling me to the married life. However, if God is calling me to the priesthood I pray that my fiancée and I will come to know and understand my vocation. Maybe she could even know before I do, for I am too weak to walk away.” The next day I proposed, and she said yes.

The thoughts of the priesthood began to fall more and more towards the background, and I focused on my future as a married man. Only a few months after being engaged, a woman whom I had not met before, came up to me after mass and asked if I was going to be a priest. This was quite a shock to me, and it triggered a brief series of events as I was off to meet up with my fiancée and some friends at a restaurant. When I got to the restaurant the first thing I blurted out to my fiancée was how this lady had asked me if I was going to be a priest. I cannot explain why I said this, but it was definitely the Holy Spirit working. My fiancée then began to tell me how she was just telling her friend next to her how she thought God might be calling me to the priesthood. That night, she and I ended up having a long talk. It was not easy, but we both came to the conclusion that I needed to pursue the priesthood more. I had a few sleepless nights, but I knew I was on the right path.

Only a month or two later, another woman came up to me after Mass and asked me if I wanted to go on a vocational retreat with the Legionaries of Christ. Though I had never heard of the Legionaries of Christ before, I had a feeling from the first moment this is where God was calling me. Of course, I did not tell her that right away. I said I would have to think about it in prayer and get back to her. As usual, I procrastinated until about a month before the retreat. I thought I had lost the opportunity to get the plane ticket and make all the necessary arrangements to go, but decided that I would at least tell her that I was interested. She ended up organizing everything for me, and before I knew it, I found myself in Cheshire, Connecticut, on a Test Your Call retreat. The first day I felt out of place. I entrusted the retreat to Mary, and through this experience, I grew in the conviction of my call to the priesthood. On Sunday, before returning home, there was a presentation on the Legionaries and their ministries. I could not believe it: it was exactly what I felt that God was calling me to. I always had felt the inclination to be more of a missionary type priest. I wanted to work with families and boys, particularly in their junior high years, to grow stronger in their faith to help them avoid some of the struggles I had to go through. I wanted to travel around to preach and help people on a personal level in their journey in life. There were a number of other elements as well, and though I knew nothing of the Legion before, I saw it as exactly what God had been preparing and calling me to. That same summer I entered the candidacy program.

I cannot say I was absolutely sure this was definitively where God was calling me. I can be a little slow and hard headed to accept things at times. However, I knew I had to at least go and check it out. That summer of 2000 was one of the most enjoyable summers I ever had, and I joined the novitiate that fall. This happened to be the year of the Jubilee, and the Legion’s 60th anniversary took place that January. I had a chance to go to Rome that year, together with nearly half of the Legionaries and Regnum Christi members. Even as a novice, I still knew very little about the Legion and even less about Regnum Christi. So coming to Rome and encountering thousands of Legionaries and tens of thousands of Regnum Christi members was a great experience. It was here where I began to understand fully what I was part of. God had called me to the Legion to reach out to numerous families, transmitting the enthusiasm that Regnum Christi has to offer.

Throughout my years of formation, I have never regretted a single moment. I have received numerous blessings and could have never imagined some of the things I found myself doing, nor the gratitude of being able to help out in so many people’s lives and bring them closer to Christ. I sold all I had for the pearl of great price: I have given up many things, but what I have received cannot even be compared.

Though we do not always know the way, we must put our trust in God and remain close to Mary; they will show us the way. What gave me the strength to finally say yes? My prayer life: it was perfect, but I put in a good effort. Most importantly I always asked God what he wanted. I had my own hopes and dreams, but came to see that the only way I can reach fulfilment in life is by being faithful to God’s will. After eleven years of formation, I have no regrets. I see my vocation as a gift, and the years have gone by so fast. I still sometimes say, “Who am I to be your priest?” I always say in answer, “May I be faithful to your will.”


FR MICHAEL ANDREW PICARD was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on January 14h, 1979. He went to Moss Bluff Elementary and Junior High, and graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1997. After high school he completed 3 years of college at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, majoring in business management. He did his novitiate in Cornwall, Ontario, from 2000 to 2002, and a year of classical humanities in 2002. He worked for three years Atlanta in youth and development work, and completed bachelors’ degrees in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He is currently working in Cornwall, Ontario, as the business manager of his old novitiate, as well as the highschool seminary there.

Los testimonios vocacionales de los legionarios de Cristo que recibieron la ordenación sacerdotal en el año 2011 han sido publicados en el libro "Dios lo da todo".



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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