By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-Next month Rev. Gerard Frawley will celebrate a half century as a priest.
Still the milestone for the native of County Limerick, Ireland who was raised on an 85-acre dairy farm in the rolling countryside remains to him— a full measure of divine intervention.
“I’d finished high school and in my teenage years I prayed not to become a priest,” laughed Frawley, 77. “And look at me now. God obviously had a big say in this, I can’t explain it. There are far better people than me to be a priest. When this call came through in some kind of mysterious way I fought it because I could never become a good priest. I still believe that.”
Many will differ.
At 10:30 a.m., June 3, St. Anne Parish, 825 S. Ortonville Road, will host an 50th ordination celebration for Frawley who came to St. Anne Parish in June 2008
Frawley left home at about 20-years-old. He entered the Pallottine order in 1961 and studied for the priesthood at the Pallottine House of Study in Thurles, Ireland.
“I did not tell anyone for a good while, because I wanted to make this decision myself,” he said. “I had been thinking about it for a good while, I had fought it for a good while too and I came to the conclusion that there was no point in fighting God any longer. So I just gave in. Everyone was surprised I became a priest as a matter of fact some people were even shocked.”
Frawley was ordained a priest on June 8, 1968 and began his ministry as a missionary, serving in parishes in the Diocese of Singida in Tanzania, East Africa, from 1968 to 1972.
In 1972, he was transferred to England, where he ministered in two Pallotine-run parishes, St. Thomas More Parish in Barking, Essex and Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Greenford, Middlesex.
In 1976, Frawley was assigned to a parish ministry in the United States where he served at Sacred Heart Parish in Ely, Nev., from 1976 to 1979, and St. Philip Parish in Idalou, Texas, from 1979 to 1985. He spent from 1985 to 1990 at St. Brendan Parish in Stephenville, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas.
He came to the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1990, serving as pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Wyandotte until 2000 and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Capac from 2000 to 2007.
He was assigned pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Detroit and was appointed pastor of St. Anne Parish in Ortonville.
“My family was very involved in the church and we prayed every night together,” he said. “It does not mean we were perfect.”
Gerard is the son of Tom and Kathleen, the brother of Tom and John and sisters Rena and Mary.
“The priesthood gave me inter-peace,” he said. “Becoming a priest has brought me a peace of mind that I cannot put into words. I ask God for the gift of inter- peace because if you don’t have that it does not matter what else you have. Prayer and the Eucharist are so very important for young priest starting out today. That sets the tone for everything else. I love to pray in the morning, no newspapers, no radio, it’s the best part of the day.”