27 Michael J. Piehler was born in Rochester, NY in 1946 to Allison Schneider Piehler and Albert Michael Piehler; the first of their five children. Mike was educated at Sacred Heart Cathedral elementary school, The Aquinas Institute and St. John Fisher College. He spent a year as a Novice with the Order of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers) in Pontiac, Michigan in 1964-65 and continued as a Basilian Scholastic (seminarian) until 1970 when he left the Order to work in college administration. Mike held several different positions, first at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and then at St. John Fisher College where he also coached the Fisher Cardinals football team for several years. Mike met Kathi McGarry during his time at RIT. They married in 1972 and were blessed with two wonderful children: Jennifer Joy in 1975 and Michael McGarry in 1979. Upon the untimely death of his father, Mike, at age 30, stepped in to run the family automobile dealerships, which at one time during his tenure, numbered 15 different car lines. Mike has held leadership roles in many professional affiliations throughout his career. “Piehler, Piehler the Pontiac Dealer” was considered a Rochester tradition for many decades. In 1980, at the age of 34, Mike was accepted into the formation program for the Permanent Diaconate of the Diocese of Rochester, NY. He and Kathi spent four years of theological study and preparation at what was then St. Bernard’s Institute – located at the former St. Bernard’s Seminary on Lake Avenue in Rochester – and is now named St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. Mike was ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Mathew H. Clark, on April 28, 1984 with Kathi, literally, standing by his side. Mike’s first diaconal assignment was at the city parish of St. Francis Xavier working with Pastors, Monsignor George Cocuzzi and Fr. Bill Leone. After two years he was assigned to the then newest parish of the Diocese, Church of the Transfiguration, in Pittsford, NY, where he ministered for the next 26 years. Mike’s ministry at Transfiguration, while varied, primarily focused on men’s spirituality and their relationship to Church. This ministry involved developing a 25-year relationship between the men of Transfiguration and the poor of Appalachia, specifically Holy Family parish in Booneville, Kentucky located in Owsley County, the second poorest county in the nation. Over 400 men from Transfiguration, as well as other parts of the country, have participated in an annual Men’s Kentucky Retreat, working with the poor at Holy Family parish. This is a program that continues each fall and, in fact, has expanded to include a Women’s Kentucky Retreat each spring. An outgrowth of this ministry to the poor has been the formation of a Men’s Fellowship at Transfiguration, which to this day, focuses on men’s relationship to Faith, Family and Finances (the marketplace). Important to note that what started as a Men’s Retreat has grown into a life-long relationship between the two parishes – between the wealthiest and poorest communities of Faith. Mike retired from active diaconal ministry in January of 2012 but continues to serve part-time, especially participating in weddings, funerals and baptisms. He remains active in the automobile business although now that his son, Michael, has joined the dealerships’ management team it affords Mike time to travel with his wife, Kathi, and more fun time with his six grandchildren—who are the light of his life! 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Michael J. Piehler ’64 We’d love to stay in touch! Near or far, in the United States or abroad, let us know where you are. Simply scan the QR code or visit to complete the form and update your information. That way we can keep you up-to-date on what’s happening at Aquinas, invite you to special events, and make sure you get access to all the perks of being a Li’l Irish. Where ARE YOU Now?