Associate Michael “Mike” Bourgeois passed away April 8, 2020 due to complications from a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 64.

Born April 5, 1956, Mike was a lifelong resident of Kankakee. Both Mike and his wife, Susan, made their first commitments as associates in 2003, after years of involvement with the Viatorians at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee. He was a lector, served on the parish council, and together they accompanied young couples in the parish’s marriage preparation program.

In more recent years, Michael and Susan joined the St. George Parish Community, where they advanced the Viatorian mission with other associates in the parish and worked alongside of Fr. Daniel Belanger, CSV, pastor.

At the same time, Mike was a leader in the farming community. He and his wife farmed more than 1,000 acres of corn and soybean crops in Kankakee County.

“He looked forward to planting each spring,” his wife, Susan, said. “It was his favorite time of the year. He viewed it as a time of new growth after the dark of winter.”

In the wider farming community, Mike spent 14 years on the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, first as the Aroma Township Director and later on the Policy Development Committee. Its mission was to promote local agriculture and grow the next generation of farmers.

Mike brought his unique background as a farmer and community leader to the wider Viatorian Community. In 2010, when Viatorians gathered in the Bourbonnais/Kankakee region for the annual Provincial Assembly, the Bourgeois couple hosted the entire crowd for an opening barbeque on their farm.

Ten years after the couple made their first commitments as associates, they made their definitive commitments, making permanent their dedication to the Viatorian Community and its charism.

At the time, Mike said that lay people brought a different dimension to the religious community.

“As associates, we can offer the vowed another source of feedback,” he said. “and companionship that may not be available otherwise.”

Adapted from an article in the Spring 2020 quarterly newsletter.