by: Sem. Alche Daclan Carriedo
“He Had Been Gifted with the Call to Mission”
“He (Reverend Father Michael P. Heigel, MM) accomplished a lot and got others to accomplish so much. His shortcoming, if that is what it should be called, was that he was so busy for others that he had no time to care for himself.” – Fr. James Noonan, MM, Washington, D.C.
Reverend Father Michael P. Heigel, MM was the founder of St. Xavier Parish in Governor Generoso in 1963. He was born at Conway, Arkansas, on May 26, 1925 and went through highschool in St. Joseph Parish School in Conway. At the age of 18, Father Michael served the army in the war against Germany from 1943-1946. At the end of the war, he returned back to school and joined Maryknoll in September, 1947. He studied at Lakewood and was ordained in June 11, 1955 and was immediately assigned to the Philippines and established an organization where they called it “grassroots with the poor” which simply means the foundation organization for the poor people in the southern Philippines.
In 2010, as testified by Father James Noonan, MM in 1958, together with Fr. Heigel and many other Maryknollian Fathers, were assigned in a very needy prelature in Tagum, where Mindanao inhabits 500,000 Catholics with no Filipino priest. Fr. Noonan even called Fr. Heigel as one of the heroes in his life for being great in undertaking his so-called “mission” which is to serve people especially the poor.
Consequently in 1964, Reverend Father Michael P. Heigel founded Maryknoll High School of Sigaboy under the prelature of Tagum with Bishop Joseph Reagan, MM, also a Maryknoll missionary. This was one of the discoveries of Father Heigel: developing Small Christian Communities and involving all the parishioners in a process that would enable everyone to find a meaningful ministry that the community might need. Establishing Maryknoll High School of Sigaboy was indeed a great honor not just for Father Heigel but to the people of Governor Generoso as well. Three years before Father Michael Heigel died, he was forced to return to the U.S. because of his failing health and become a resident of St. Teresa in June 1974. St. Teresa is an unincorporated community in Franklin County, Florida, U.S. And in January 2, 1978, Father Michael Heigel passed away. Father Hiegel’s apostolate in the Philippines was remarkable for the missionary zeal and dedication he exemplified. Other missionaries admire him even more for his healing prayers. Though Father Heigel’s health declined through his illness (Rheumatism), he never stopped his mission up until today where Maryknoll High School of Sigaboy, now, Maryknoll School of Sigaboy, Inc. stands firm. Father Noonan even said, “We were sad but Mike was full of joy and peace that he had been gifted with the call to mission”.