Published October 23, 2018
MARIETTA— Father Michael Steven Sherliza, a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died Oct. 22 after battling a long series of illnesses. He was 62.
The son of Robert Joseph Sherliza and Lizzette (Sullivan) Sherliza, he was born on Oct. 2, 1956, the feast of the Guardian Angels, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in North Attleboro and was a communicant and altar server at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. He was confirmed at the Parish of St. Mark in Attleboro Falls.
In 1968, the family relocated to Griffin, Georgia. He attended Sacred Heart Church there and graduated from Griffin High School in 1974.
His calling to the priesthood came during his teenage years. After confessing a particularly troubling sin to his parish priest and receiving absolution, he heard God speak to him, “Go and do likewise.” Father Sherliza was known for his merciful, kind and Christ-filled counsel in sacrament of reconciliation. This mercy can be traced back to his original call.
After high school, he entered the Redemptorist seminary at St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, Connecticut, for four years. He also served a novitiate year at Immaculate Conception College in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy in 1979. He attended graduate school at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York, but decided to leave the seminary before taking final vows.
While his calling was never in doubt, the timing was. After leaving the seminary, he worked in the business world for 15 years before resuming his formation. In 1995, he enrolled at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, and received his master of divinity in 1999. Michael was ordained a transitional deacon on July 1, 1998, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, and as a priest on June 5, 1999, at Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta, both by Archbishop John Francis Donoghue. His first Mass was celebrated at his home parish of Sacred Heart in Griffin June 6.
His first assignment was three years at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock. He followed this with three years at St. James the Apostle Church, McDonough, and St. Mary Mother of God, Jackson. He spent the next three years at St. Andrew Church, Roswell before settling at his beloved St. Joseph Church in Marietta in 2008.
Father Sherliza’s favorite pastimes were reading, listening to music, praying, traveling, camping on the Appalachian Trail, gaming and even attending DragonCon. He loved being a priest and serving the Lord and his people.
Father Sherliza is survived by his parents, Robert Joseph and Lizzette Sherliza of Griffin; brother, Mark Sherliza (Kathy Gant) of Leesburg; sisters, Jane Wier (Charles) of Brookhaven, and Kathleen Littleton (Mike) of Cumming. He is also survived by his aunt and godmother, Sister Michelle Sherliza, OP, of Columbus, Ohio, and nephews, Garrison Wier (Jamie) of Denver, Colorado, Brian Wier of Atlanta and Evan Wier of Newport, North Carolina.
Father Sherliza’s family thanks Barbara Ange and Christine Davy for their compassionate and devoted care. In addition, they are grateful for the wonderful professionals of the Visiting Angels organization and the WellStar Community Hospice team. Above all, they thank the priests, staff and parishioners of St. Joseph Church for being an integral part of his family.
A vespers service will be held on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Church 87 Lacy St., NW, Marietta. Father Sherliza’s funeral Mass will be on Friday, Oct. 26 at 10:30 a.m at St. Joseph Church.
All are invited to wear a black fedora, which was Father Sherliza’s signature hat, to the Mass.
In his final moments, Father Sherliza shared these thoughts, “Trust in God’s mercy and love. Repent and believe. Don’t fear the confessional … Yay, God!”