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Priest celebrates golden anniversary

Monsignor Michael J. Slattery will celebrate 50 years in the priesthood

Posted: June 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Monsignor Mike Slattery.

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Despite his nearly 50 years in the United States, Monsignor Michael J. Slattery still speaks with a lilting Irish brogue that exposes his roots in County Cork, Ireland.

Slattery, who prefers to be called "Father Mike," has spent most of his 50 years in the Catholic priesthood in the Santa Clarita and northern San Fernando valleys.

He served first at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Newhall, before moving to other parishes, and now has tended his flock at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Saugus for 14 years.

Blessed Kateri was named for the first Native American to be beatified.

The congregation at Blessed Kateri started with 30 families, and now numbers more than 6,000 families, Slattery said.

"We have people from all over the world in the congregation," he said. "We have a youthful and professional congregation."

A jubilee celebration for Slattery will be held today at the church during Mass at 7 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

He always knew he wanted to become a priest, Slattery said. His first appointment in the United States was at a parish in Simi Valley.

"When I started in 1962 in Simi Valley, you could buy a house for $1 down," he said.

Slattery has served in seven parishes during his long career.

"The Santa Clarita Valley was my second parish," he said.

After his stint at OLPH, he moved to Palmdale, then to Chatsworth, followed by Granada Hills and then back to the SCV.

Slattery said he was ordained 50 years ago with 17 other priests.

"Thirteen are still alive," he said.

Slattery said the group will gather this summer for a reunion in the church where they were all ordained.

Bella Shaw, a Blessed Kateri parishioner and member of the parish council, said Father Mike is known for his sense of humor.

"He likes to wear an HBO ‘Soprano' sweatshirt and cap," she said. "He also loves philosophy, especially Thomas Merton."

Slattery said his philosophy revolves around spirituality.

"It's about bringing spiritual values and virtue to the community, to people," he said. "It's a wide umbrella that covers many things, visiting the sick, social justice, worship - there are about 50 ministries in the church."

Slattery said his use of humor is important in his work.

"Humor alleviates pain. It also makes you more accessible, more human," he said.

For more information about Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church, 22508 Copper Hill Drive, Saugus, visit www.blessedkateriparish.org.

mbuttelman@the-signal.com

661-287-5590

 

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