Parishioner of St. Matthew Parish in Gahanna
Michael Hartge grew up on Reynoldsburg, Ohio and he and his family are Gahanna St. Matthew parishioners. Michael attended elementary and middle school at St. Matthew and attended St. Charles Preparatory School. He is the second oldest of four children.
As a youth, Michael enjoyed altar serving and lecturing at Mass. When asked if the thought about the priesthood, Mike said that he “found it interesting.” He attended a Live-in at the Pontifical College Josephinum while in high school.
Michael participated in track and field in high school. He continues to run daily, early in the morning, and occasionally enjoys running marathons and half marathons. “The morning run clears my head,” said Michael.
In 2003, he graduated high school and went to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He majored in Communications with a focus in radio and he worked at a radio station on campus.
He sought advice from priest friends as the priesthood was still a passing thought for him while in college. During his junior year, a priest advised him to finish college before entering seminary.
After college, Michael found a radio job in Nelsonville, Ohio. He worked the morning news timeslot, and sold radio air time, but he was not happy and began to look for another job. After 14 months in that job, he accepted a job at a public radio station in North Carolina to be the Music Director and to cover the afternoon drive shift from 2-6 p.m. “The glamour of being on-the-air wore off. I began to think I could be doing something else, something better with my time.”
While home for Christmas, 2008, Michael spoke with Fr. Jeff Coning, Vocations Director, about his interest in seminary. “When I look back now, there were promptings by the Holy Spirit all along. Then I started thinking maybe I should go to seminary instead of just changing jobs to try to be happy.”
Michael moved back to Ohio for the summer before starting at the Pontifical College Josephinum in August, 2009. That summer he was assigned to assist at Newark St. Francis DeSales parish. Michael began to pray the Divine Office and develop a routine of prayer and Mass that has helped him adjust to the structure of seminary.
“I lived in the Rectory, prayed Morning Prayer, served at Mass, took communion to the Homebound, lectured at daily Mass, was a Eucharistic Minister and helped with Vacation Bible School, the elementary school and worked in the cemetery.”
He is now studying Philosophy in seminary and Michael finds it challenging but very interesting. “I credit St. Charles with helping me to develop good study habits.”
Michael is easing into seminary. “Before this I didn’t have much of a structured prayer life outside of Mass. I have been praying before the Blessed Sacrament and it is very valuable prayer, but I am taking it all in slowly.”
He appreciates that everyone at seminary is on a very individual spiritual journey and that the men are respectful of that.
His family is very supportive of his move to seminary. Michael has two great uncles who are priests.
Michael is grateful for the support of so many people. “It is almost overwhelming how much people want to help us. It is wonderful to be in a place where you are asked to pray and study. I am enjoying it and trying to let the formation take hold. I believe I should be focused on discerning the best I can.”
He is also grateful for the many priests friendships and for the mentoring they have given him over the years. “My priest friends were always willing to answer questions and they were patient with the process and let me figure it out.”
Michael’s advice for others, “If you feel like seminary is where you should be, give it a try. It is the perfect place to discern and explore the call. If it isn’t right, you can always move on.”