SAULT STE MARIE, Mich. - Father Don Shiroda, 83, died on March 16, 2011 in Sault Ste Marie, Mich. at Freighter View Assisted Living where he had been a resident since 2008.
Fr. Don was born in Houghton on April 30, 1927, the son of Mable and Louis Shiroda, and attended schools in Houghton.
He worked for Thornton Construction Co. in Hancock after high school and then served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In 1950, he began seminary in Kitchner, Ontario, followed by St. Francis in Milwaukee and finished his theological training in 1959 at St. John's in Plymouth.
Fr. Shiroda began his career as a priest by serving as assistant pastor for St. Gregory's in Newberry. Subsequently, he ministered in St. Thomas in Escanaba, St. Agnes in Iron River, St. Albert the Great in Houghton, St. Christopher's in Marquette, St. Paul the Apostle in Calumet, Immaculate Conception in Iron Mountain and Sacred Heart in L'Anse.
In 1986 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Church in Sault Ste Marie and remained there until he retired in 1997. He continued to live in Sault Ste Marie at Freighter View Assisted Living until his death.
In addition to serving numerous parishes across the U.P., he was involved in the communities in which he lived.
He played a very important role with the students at Michigan Tech. In 1971, Bishop Charles Salatka requested his transfer to another parish, St. Albert the Great Parish Council implored the Bishop to delay the transfer for the remainder of the current academic year so Fr. Don could complete the on-going programs he worked on with the students.
He was the "founding father" of Caring House in Iron Mountain, a shelter for woman and children seeking a safe home from domestic violence. He opened a house for women recovering from alcohol and drug dependency in Sault Ste Marie. He served as Dean of the Sault Ste Marie Deanery and Episcopal Vicar of the Eastern Region, held terms as Sacramental Minister to Catholic Campus Ministry at Lake Superior State University and regularly performed Mass at the Hiawatha Correctional Facility in the Soo. He was a chaplin for the Knights of Columbus and the Congress Circle 367 of the Daughters of Isabella.
Fr. Don celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola on June 28, 2009. During his visit to Houghton he was thrilled to be able to view the restoration of St. Paul's in Calumet.
He was known as the "Blacktop Priest" because wherever he was stationed the church ended up getting a new blacktop parking lot.
Fr. Shiroda was an avid hockey fan, both at Michigan Tech and later for the Lake Superior State University Lakers team.
He will be remembered for his wonderful pastoral ministry and community activities throughout his career. Many of us are in a better place in our lives as a result of knowing him.
He is survived by numerous family, friends and countless parishioners across the U.P.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on June 6th at 11 a.m. at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Houghton with Fr. John Martignon officiating to commemorate his life, death and the 52nd anniversary of his priesthood.