Class of 1969
Born on Noongall Sheep Station in Yalgoo near Geraldton as the first boy, but second of five children, Michael Morrissey boarded at Aquinas for seven years. Armed with a love of reading Michael showed an early passion for the Church. His mother recalls that his calling for the Church showed itself early as he would round up the local children for Mass which might happen once a fortnight or once a month as Church was about 30kms from Yalgoo and the priest would come from Mullewa or Mt Magnet. Even as a very young person he really enjoyed going to Mass.
Michael left Aquinas College after his final year in 1969 and his mother remembers his calling to the priesthood did not come as a surprise. She is not alone in saying: “I think it was his nature. Some people are born to be certain things, and, Michael was born to be a priest.” Growing up on a station young Michael was home taught on the station, barefoot and in a class of only three: his brother, his sister and himself. But he recalls his mother ran a tight ship and adhered to regular hours and lessons.
Not surprisingly, therefore, Year 1 at Aquinas where he was suddenly thrust into a class of 43 boys, was a foreign experience. He found it “exciting and a bit traumatic”. By Year 9 it began to feel more like home and he recalls that academically things fell into place and he was very happy at school.
On discovering he was not a natural athlete or swimmer, Br Worner put young Michael in charge or organising the Swimming Carnival. He found he rose to organisational challenges easily. While at Aquinas he was one of four St Vincent de Paul Society “Leaders” featured in the Annual of 1969.
The strong need within him to help others was something he found grew stronger while at the school. By the time he had reached Year 11 he felt he could speak to one of the brothers about it and did so.
Michael was the first person from Geraldton to be brought up there and eventually become a priest for the region. At his ordination in St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Geraldton in 1981 his mother Margaret said: “He has dedicated his life to God and his pastoral work, and I cannot be happier for him. It is a very special occasion for all of us.”
His lasting memory of Aquinas was somewhere he learned: “It was important to show respect and value what you received. More than this it is important to show it by doing something for someone else.”