WYANDOTTE — A man known for his caring heart, welcoming smile and soothing Irish brogue, Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC, was a priest, friend and mentor to all who met him.
The Cork, Ireland, native and member of the Irish Pallottine community in Wyandotte was known for having an upbeat attitude and always making time for anyone he came across.
Fr. Cremin died Sept. 19, succumbing to a long battle with stomach cancer. He was 61.
“He was very welcoming; a wonderful, kind and generous man,” said Fr. Brendan McCarrick, SAC, associate pastor of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish in Wyandotte, where Fr. Cremin was pastor.
“He was very welcoming when I came from Ireland in November 2016,” Fr. McCarrick said. “I suppose he taught me to listen first and then to journey with people.”
Fr. Cremin loved to journey with people, both figuratively and literally, Fr. McCarrick said. He often organized trips on the Danube River and excursions to his native Ireland with parishioners.
“He just loved being among the people,” Fr. McCarrick said.
Michael L. Cremin was born May 24, 1958, to John Joe and Josephine Cremin in Cork, Ireland. He entered the Pallottine community in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, in September 1976. Upon making his first consecration as a Pallottine on May 31, 1979, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1983.
Fr. Cremin served as associate pastor at Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Greenford, Middlesex, England, and as chaplain of Cardinal Wiseman Secondary School in Greenford.
He then spent six years at St. Patrick Parish in Corduff, Dublin, while waiting for his visa to minster in the United States. He was appointed to the Pallottine Mission House in 2004 and to the parishes of St. Joseph, St. Patrick and St. Elizabeth in Wyandotte, which later merged into St. Vincent Pallotti Parish.
“He gave off this impression of a young, light-hearted priest who brought a lot of joyful life to the Pallottine community,” said Cathy Kosh, missionary office staff assistant with the Irish Pallottines. “He was a Boy Scout in Ireland, and I remember he worked a lot with my son’s Boy Scout troop. When the Boy Scouts in Wyandotte got their Ad Altare Dei Medal, Fr. Michael had a beautiful Mass he celebrated with the Boy Scouts.”
Kosh remembers the stories Fr. Cremin told the Boys Scouts and how he loved to spend time outdoors.
“He’d relate to the Boy Scouts about when Jesus had the 5,000 in the crowd and didn’t have any food,” Kosh said. “Jesus would bless them, divide the loaves and fishes and feed them. When telling this story, he’d remember the brown sack lunch he’d take and share it with his troop.
“He also told the troop when he was contemplating the priesthood, he’d go out by himself, and he heard the voice of God,” Kosh remembers. “And God said to him, ‘Michael, I’m going to take you places, and I promise I will always keep you safe, wherever that may be.’”
As pastor of St. Vincent Pallotti and a member of the Pallottine community in Wyandotte, Fr. Cremin was tasked with leading the parish after consolidation and raising funds for the Pallottines’ missions around the world.
During parish and Pallottine events, Kosh said Fr. Cremin could be found singing and dancing, having a good time and encouraging others to join in.
“He loved to sing and dance whenever there was a function. During appreciation dinners or fundraisers, he was always up there, singing and dancing,” Kosh said.
Many will remember Fr. Cremin as a kind soul who went to extraordinary lengths to care for his mother when she became sick back home in Ireland in 2016, before she passed away.
Going out of his way to care for others was just part of his nature, Fr. McCarrick said, recalling how he also cared for Pallottine priest Fr. Noel O’Connor when he fell ill, and the selfless way he answered calls for home visits from parishioners, despite his own illness.
“Everyone I have spoken to about Fr. Michael has happy memories of Fr. Michael,” Fr. McCarrick said. “He was a man you could call on for a different song, enjoying the fullness of life. He was a man I had a dinner with seven days a week with for three years, and he always had this selfless, upbeat attitude about him.
“Fr. Michael will be missed by everybody in Wyandotte: the community, the priestly community and the Downriver community,” Fr. McCarrick continued. “He’ll be missed by a huge number of people. We won’t know how many lives he touched, but he ministered to people quietly, subtly, with charity and goodness when people needed it.”
Fr. Cremin is predeceased by his parents and his two brothers, Tony and Kiera. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Linda; nephew, Conor; niece, Christina; his uncle, Fr. Michael Cremin, O. Carm,; and many cousins and their families.
A funeral Mass was celebrated for him at St. Joseph Church in Wyandotte on Sept. 23.