Michael H. Hay died at the age of forty-five on Wednesday, April 14, in Norwalk, Ohio. He was born in Norwalk on June 23, 1953, and graduated from the local Saint Paul High School. He graduated from Saint Meinrad College in Indiana, and then went on to earn music degrees at Notre Dame and DePaul University in Chicago.
Mike was a teacher, music editor, liturgical advisor, recording artist and producer, composer, and pastoral musician. He taught at the high school from which he graduated and at Niles College and Loyola University in Chicago, at Notre Dame, and at the Oglala Sioux School in Marty, South Dakota. He served as music editor and recording artist for World Library Publications in Chicago, and he served as a liturgical advisor to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Toledo. At the time of his death he was serving as music minister for the 4:30 PM Mass at his home parish in Norwalk.
NPM members will remember him from his leadership at many conventions. His voice rang out in leadership, inviting the assembly to sing in full-voiced conviction. As the voice soared, as at the 1981 Detroit convention, the spirit driving the voice radiated an unmistakable cue for all to join in the singing: “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fam’ly bound by love throughout the whole wide earth.” NPM in its gatherings has never sung better than when we were being led by Mike Hay.
Mike was there from the beginning, from the very first conventions, bringing his indomitable spirit and thrilling voice to serve the Association and the Church. Serving as cantor and psalmist, he brought us the gift of performance at the highest level marked by pastoral sensitivity. Asking the hard questions and presenting the difficult requirements of preparation for music ministry, Mike still enchanted students in classes and workshops. In his teaching and his performance he always called forth what was best, what was right for the liturgy, what was appropriate for the worshiping community being led in sung prayer. Mike set a standard for our field.
Those privileged to know Mike knew someone whose faith and determination were immeasurably deep, though tried physically by two devastating car accidents and spiritually by other challenges. No challenge seemed ultimately insurmountable to him. Despite daily pain, he still loved life, hoped for the future, smiled that incredible smile, and laughed aloud. He found renewal in life’s simple miracles—in flowers blooming outside his room, in the delight of “fine dining,” in the beauty of children’s faces as they sang.
Mike’s funeral was celebrated at Saint Paul, Norwalk, on April 17-18, and he was remembered in Chicago at a special memorial Mass on Monday, May 10, at Madonna della Strada Chapel at Loyola University.
Mike set people at the center of the work of his heart and mind. Blessed are we to have known him and to have called him brother.
Tribute prepared by NPM staff, published in Pastoral Music, June-July 1999, pg. 6. Reprinted with permission.