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 | By Elizabeth Solsburg

FAITH Catholic remembers founding editor Father Charles E. Irvin

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Father Charles E. Irvin, age 88, of DeWitt, passed into eternal life on Feb. 11, 2021. Father Charlie was born January 6, 1933, in Ann Arbor, and was the only child of Charles and Virginia Irvin.

He attended University High School, and remained in Ann Arbor to earn his  Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, a law degree and a Master’s of Business Administration, all from the University of Michigan. While working as a lawyer for Continental Bank in Chicago, he discerned a call to the priesthood.

Father Charlie studied for the priesthood at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and received his Master of Divinity degree from St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Michigan. On June 3, 1967, he was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit by Archbishop John Cardinal Dearden at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit.

Father Charlie spent 11  years as the pastor of St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, where he was a driving force in campus ministry. He was a perfect choice as pastor, since he was a dyed-in-the-wool Wolverine. In later years, he enjoyed teasing Michigan State fans about The University of Michigan.

In 1971, the boundaries of the dioceses of Michigan were reconfigured, and Washtenaw County became part of the Diocese of Lansing, along with Father Charlie.

In 1979, he was named the first pastor of the newly established parish of Holy Spirit in Hamburg. He remained there until 1987, when he became the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, back in his beloved Ann Arbor. Under his leadership, the church and parish engaged in a number of renovations. In 1997, Father Charlie was appointed as pastor of St. Mary in Manchester. It was from there that he retired from active ministry in 2002.

During his 54-years of priesthood, Father Charlie served on many diocesan and national committees which often drew upon his business and legal acumen. The contribution he made to the Church of which he was most proud was FAITH magazine, the official publication of the Diocese of Lansing, in 1999. Father Charlie was its founder and remained its editor until his retirement in 2001. He continued to write a popular column, The Last Word, until 2016. 

He was also a prolific writer and evangelist, and was the author of a book on The Our Father, as well as a video series explaining the Mass. His deep faith is expressed in his words from an interview in FAITH a few years ago: “I think the good news is that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and death doesn’t have power over us. ... God will not separate himself from us, as long as we let him stay close to us.” 

As an only child, Father Charlie cherished the relationships he had with his fellow priests, his parishioners, and the staff of FAITH Catholic. He is survived by his cousin, Robert Ayres, and several members of his extended family.  Those who loved him and were loved by him will miss him deeply, but rejoice that he is at peace with God.