Brother Mickey Finds Happy Marriage Between
Religion and Art
CINCINNATI—The award-winning paintings of Brother Michael O’Neill
McGrath, O.S.F.S., adorn the walls of chapels, convents and retreat
houses across the country. Brother Mickey has been exploring the
relationship between his faith and his passion for art since childhood.
Equipped with a natural aptitude for drawing, as well as the desire
for a religious life, the Oblate brother expresses one passion
through the other.
His story is featured in the April
issue of St. Anthony Messenger. In the article, author
Margaret Gordon Kender delves into the life, faith and career
of Brother Mickey. St. Anthony Messenger is a national
Catholic magazine published monthly by the Franciscan friars in
Cincinnati, Ohio. The story can also be found at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
The youngest of five children from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Brother Mickey noticed early on a deep connection between his
religious faith and his love for drawing. “I can’t remember a
time when I didn’t draw,” he says, “and I never remember a time
when most of my drawings were not connected to my religious faith.”
Supported by family and teachers, Brother Mickey spent years honing
his talents in art, as well as deepening his resolve to express
his faith through this medium.
After being introduced to the teachings of St. Francis
de Sales, Brother Mickey decided to enter the Oblate formation
program at Pennsylvania’s Brisson Seminary after high school.
As a student, his artwork drew the attention of Father Michael
Donovan, the seminary director, who urged his young charge to
focus on art.
After graduation from Moravian College in nearby Bethlehem, Brother
Mickey began teaching at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales
(now called De Sales University), where he taught others the beauty
of creativity and the unity between spirituality and art. After
the death of his parents, however, he decided to stop teaching
and concentrate full-time on art.
Brother Mickey’s paintings and illustrations, many of which depict
saints in modern-day circumstances, are often whimsical in nature.
In depicting St. Francis de Sales, for example, he has the 17th
century writer-saint seated in front of a computer.
Brother Mickey’s artwork has been recreated into posters and
notecards, and can be found in books such as Patrons and Protectors:
Occupations (Liturgy Training Publications) and Journey
With Thérése of Lisieux: Celebrating the Artist in Us All
(Sheed and Ward). He is also in the process of creating a series
of black Madonnas, based on a Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
Brother Mickey’s mission is to enrich the spiritual vision of
those who enjoy his art. “My ministry is to help folks see with
other eyes—the eyes of the soul.”
Permission is granted to reprint this release.