By Steve Neill Of The Catholic Virginian
As he looks back on his 40 years of priesthood, Msgr. Michael McCarron recalls that when he was assigned as pastor of Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville he was 29 and says at that time he was the youngest Catholic pastor in the U.S.
Ordained May 7, 1977 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart by Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, his first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s, Petersburg. The parish, established in 1842, is the fourth oldest parish in the Diocese of Richmond.
The Petersburg parish was quite a change from his previous assignment as a deacon at Church of the Ascension in Virginia Beach which had been opened only five years earlier. He was pastor there for 10 years.
Msgr. McCarron served at Incarnation at Charlottersville, another new parish which had been established in 1976.
His third assignment was at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Newport News.
“I was the first diocesan priest to serve as pastor,” Msgr. McCarron said, noting that Our Lady of Mount Carmel, established in 1953, had been staffed by Carmelite priests.
He was pastor there for 15 years, to date his longest assignment.
“At Mount Carmel I helped build the Blessed Sacrament chapel and built the middle school addition,” he said.
Other accomplishments during his term at Our Lady of Mount Carmel were building an off-site rectory and renovating the original rectory into parish offices.
Msgr. McCarron was sacramental minister for the Poor Clares Monastery when it was in Newport News (It has since moved to Barhamsville).
He was also canonical pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Newport News, when the parish had a pastoral coordinator.
His next move was to St. Stephen Martyr Parish in Chesapeake where he served almost six years.
“I was the second pastor,” Msgr. McCarron said. “We built a parish cemetery with three different buildings with crypts for casket burial and a columbarium.”
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo assigned him as pastor of St. Bede’s in Williamsburg in July 2010. He was there for three and a half years.
Msgr. McCarron has been at St. Thomas More for four and a half years. The parish, located in the Timberlake area of Lynchburg with part of Campbell and Bedford Counties, has 927 families.
“I am overwhelmingly delighted to be a priest,” Msgr. McCarron said. “I fell in love and am still in love.
“To be in love with Jesus means that you serve His Body which is His people.
“I am absolutely amazed that He would call someone that is as much a mixed blessing as I am to this wonderful life.
“Being a priest, like any vocation, is a road to holiness which is intimacy with the Lord Jesus.
“Because it’s a road, you don’t always do it perfectly,” he continued. “You have to be journeying forward no matter what.”
Many may not know that Msgr. McCarron is proud of his Southern heirtage.
“I am delighted to be from the region of the country which has its own culture,” he explained. “It is a culture of kindness, hospitality and a rich heritage.”