The Rev. Michael Birch, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter assigned to Blessed John Henry Newman in Victoria, British Columbia, died Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. He was 76.
Father Birch was born Jan. 19, 1940 in Vancouver. He earned a Bachelor’s in history from the University of British Columbia in 1967 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the Theological College of British Columbia in 1970. He worked as a bank teller and a municipal clerk for the City of Vancouver before discerning a call to Holy Orders.
Father Birch was ordained a deacon for the Anglican Church of Canada in 1970 and a priest of the same jurisdiction on May 23, 1971.
His years of priestly ministry included service as Rector of St. John the Evangelist in Calgary (1974-1984); Rector of St. Mark’s in Calgary (1992-2003); and Founding Pastor of Christ the King in Calgary (2003-2006).
On Divine Mercy Sunday in April 2012, Father Birch entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Victoria, BC.
He was ordained a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter on June 14, 2013, at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria. He was assigned to Blessed John Henry Newman, the Ordinariate’s community in Victoria, where he remained in ministry until his death.
In a 2014 edition of the Diocesan Messenger, a publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Father Birch composed a column on vocations, writing:
“I love being a priest, for it is what God wants me to do … And may he call you, young men, to that ministry, and you, young women, to the consecrated life of prayer and action, that he will not be without witness in this, your generation. And when you hear or feel that call, may you add your ‘yes’ to that of Our Lady. By her ‘yes’ the Saviour was born; by your yes, His continued presence is assured. Then we shall understand St. Paul’s statement about his ministry, ‘Not I, but Christ in me.’”
Father Birch married his wife, Noella Ann, in May 1967. He is survived by his wife and their son and daughter.
The Reception of Father Birch’s Body will be held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, 740 View Street in Victoria, BC, at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1. The Funeral Mass for Father Birch will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
The Most Rev. Steven J. Lopes, Bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, asks all priests of the Ordinariate, in fraternal charity, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the blessed repose of the soul of Father Michael Birch.