Tributes have been paid to the late Rev Prof Michael A. Hayes, president of Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick, who passed away on Easter Saturday morning, 15 April. Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick, described Rev Hayes as a ‘man with a large cluster of talents’ who ‘befriended many with kind words of wisdom clarity and wit’.
Rev Hayes was born in Limerick in 1957. He attended St Munchin’s College in Limerick and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, before serving as a priest for the Archdiocese of Southwark in England. While in England Rev Hayes taught in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Roehampton University and served as Vice-Principal and Professor of Catholic Pastoral Studies at St Mary’s University College in London. He was appointed President of MIC, Limerick, in 2011.
Acting President of MIC, Professor Eugene Wall, paid tribute to Rev Prof Hayes stating: ‘Since becoming President almost 6 years ago, Michael worked relentlessly and with compelling conviction to lead the College with clear-sighted vision through a difficult era for higher education. He was an enthusiastic and passionate champion of the College’s role in the Irish educational landscape and he possessed an unwavering belief that student wellbeing should be a mainstay of the College’s mission. He spoke earnestly and eloquently of his hope that the enduring contribution of the College would be to contribute to the flourishing of our students’ lives. Michael’s untimely death has come as an enormous shock to the College community and his guiding hand will be sadly missed.’
Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick and Chairperson of the Trustees and Governing Authority, MIC, expressed his sorrow at the death of Rev Prof Hayes as well as his appreciation for the enormous impact he made as College President: ‘I was always struck by the untiring zeal with which Michael approached his role as President. With a deep conviction that Catholic Education has to do with the full flourishing of the human person in this life and the next, Michael gave himself more than 100% to the advancement of the College on so many levels. Any time he updated the Trustees and the Governing Board of the College, he spoke so warmly and with pride of the achievements of staff and students. Even in recent weeks, he was so clearly delighted that the College team had for a second time in a row won the Fitzgibbon Cup! Keeping before us all the high ideals that he believed the College’s history and mission proposed, Michael certainly played a key role in ensuing Mary Immaculate College is today not only the largest Catholic third level college in the country but well acclaimed for its significant role in the Irish academic and educational landscape. A man with a large cluster of talents and competencies, he befriended many with kind words of wisdom, clarity and wit. His loss will be deeply felt. He faced his illness with admirable calm and trust in God’s providence. No doubt, when the moment of death came for Michael, it was a handing over of his life to the One who can do so much more than we can imagine. With that hope, we pray for Michael and trust he will continue to contribute to the College that he served so generously.’
His Funeral Mass took place at St John’s Cathedral, Limerick, on Wednesday 19 April, with burial afterwards in Mount St Lawrence Cemetery.