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March 15, 2001   469 Words

 

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.”

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Permission is granted to reprint this release.


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