Open Door’s mission is to enhance the spiritual growth of souls through the work and vision of Monsignor Chester Michael.

Father Chet on Ennis Mountain, which he regularly climbed to meet the dawn

Spiritual Direction Institute Ministry: a) Planning, coordinating and teaching the two-year SDI program. B) Providing additional opportunities for spiritual growth through lectures, workshops and retreats. C) Offering need-based scholarships at the discretion of the board.

Communication and Publications: Supporting the publications, marketing and distribution of the books and writings of Father Chet through the establishment and maintenance of online communication.

Open Door, a 501(c)3, is managed by volunteers.

    • L. Ady Dewey, Waynesboro, Va., Chair
    • Steve Ham, Keswick, Va., Financial Officer
    • Judy Zacharias, Charlottesville, Va., Treasurer
    • Janet Centini, Earlysville, Va., Chair Emeritus
    • Scott Fisher, Richmond, Va.
    • Twink Fisher, Richmond, Va.
    • Tom Hook, Harrisonburg, Va.
    • Patty Huffman, Harrisonburg, Va.
    • Al Mirmelstein, Charlottesville, Va.
    • Bev Mirmelstein, Charlottesville, Va.
    • Felicia Rakes, Chesterfield, Va.

Monsignor Chester Paul Michael (1916-2014), S.T.D., known by so many who loved him as “Father Chet,” had several titles: priest, pastor, rector, author, student, teacher, and counselor.

He was born and raised in the rural community of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1942 in the Diocese of Richmond. Among the areas he served were as pastor at St. Mary’s in Richmond, St. Bede’s in Williamsburg and Holy Comforter in Charlottesville.

His studies in the 1950s in Jungian psychology at Notre Dame University affected the rest of his priestly ministry. Between 1959-1963, he was the founding rector of St. John Vianney Seminary near Richmond. Later he was director of Genesis House, a diocesan retreat center.

In 1963, Father Chet was instrumental in bringing the Cursillo movement to the Richmond Diocese. Then in 1989, he launched his Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI). The two-year course was designed to advance both personal spiritual growth and to train individuals to accompany others as spiritual friends.

Father Chet served the Diocese of Richmond as a priest for 72 years. He passed away on July 31, 2014, at the age of 97.

Learn more about Father Chet through the following resources:

Because he considered building the City of God his life mission, this was Father Chet’s favorite hymn.

1. Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep!
A new day is dawning for all those who weep.
The people in darkness have seen a great light.
The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.

Let us build the city of God.
May our tears be turned into dancing!
For the Lord, our light and our love,
has turned the night into day!

2. We are sons of the morning; we are daughters of day.
The One who has loved us has brightened our way.
The Lord of all kindness has called us to be
a light for his people to set their hearts free.

3. God is light; in him there is no darkness.
Let us walk in his light, his children, one and all.
O comfort my people; make gentle your words.
Proclaim to my city the day of her birth.

4. O city of gladness, now lift up your voice!
Proclaim the good tidings that all may rejoice!

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