Path to the Priesthood: Fr. Michael Cunningham

Fr. Michael Cunningham, FSSP

Fr. Cunningham was born November 24th, 1980, in Fort Pierce, FL. Very soon after that, his family moved to Spartanburg, SC where he lived until entering the seminary.

Fr. Cunningham, a cradle Catholic, asked a question to Jesus through Mary and followed that question to the altar through the Fraternity of St. Peter. Fr. Cunningham has an older brother, Steve, and a younger sister, Kristina; as a child, he spent his free time playing sports and helping with the family business. His father, Steve, served as a US Navy corpsman in the Vietnam War and died from health complications due to exposure to Agent Orange in 2007. Donna, Fr. Cunningham’s mother, was the spiritual leader of the family and a guiding influence on where he and the whole family are today. Fr. Cunningham pursued a career in baseball after college, but when that goal became unrealistic, he worked on other career paths. During this time he was not thinking about a vocation to the priesthood, but rather thought that he was called to marriage. God had other plans, though. Fr. Cunningham felt the “fingernail of God” scratching at his heart and was moved by grace to “jump through the open door” of a priestly vocation. Considering all opportunities, he felt most at home with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Fr. Cunningham during his ordination

Fr. Cunningham credits his hearing of his call to the priesthood to the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God. Fr. Cunningham asked Mary, in a time of disorientation and exhaustion, to “ask your Son what He wants me to be and I’ll do it. Whether that is to be a priest or to be married…I don’t care, I’ll do it.” She, as always, asked her Son what He wanted and He gave the answer to Fr. Cunningham through her intervention. In biblical terms, it was like the scene at the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:3-5), specifically what Mary said: “Do whatever He tells you.” Her words lead to the answer given by Jesus (John 21:22), “follow Me.”

Fr. Cunningham is currently serving his first assignment as the assistant pastor of the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori, our apostolate in Baltimore, Maryland.

August 21, 2018