Bishop Sis returns to Bryan to receive award
By Mary P. Walker
Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo was inducted into the Bryan Independent School District Hall of Honor on Aug. 16. The Hall of Honor recognizes graduates of the district whose achievements, strength of character and citizenship serve as models to inspire and challenge today’s students.
Bishop Sis grew up in the Bryan/College Station area, and spent 13 years serving there as a priest.
“It’s a blessing in life to have roots. I thank God to have such deep roots in Bryan. I am grateful to my mom and dad for raising us in this hometown,” Bishop Sis said.
His proud parents, Ray and Janice, attended the dinner ceremony at the Miramont Country Club in Bryan, in which eight Bryan ISD graduates were inducted. Janice recounted that the bishop was an active, busy high school student, who served as vice president of the student council and played the saxophone in the marching band.
“He loves his classmates and is proud of his alma mater,” she said.
Much of evening was devoted to sharing high school memories, and Bishop Sis enjoyed reconnecting with people he had not seen in years, including some of his former teachers. He expressed his admiration for their dedication to the vocation of education.
“It is wonderful to witness career teachers, who take such joy in the lives of their students,” he said.
During the presentation of the award, the bishop’s antics and accomplishments during and after high school were highlighted. One memory that brought many laughs was the time that the future bishop dressed up as cupid for a Valentine’s Day assembly. Another revelation was that his membership in the French Club fostered a love of languages; and today, in addition to English, he speaks fluent Spanish and Italian.
After high school, Bishop Sis received degrees from Notre Dame, and the Pontifical Gregorian and Pontifical Lateran Universities in Rome. Ordained a priest in 1986, he returned to College Station in 1992 as associate pastor of St. Mary Catholic Center at Texas A&M University. In 1993, he was named pastor and director of campus ministry there.
Under his 13-year leadership, the campus ministry flourished. Bishop Sis was known for cementing productive relationships among the students, faculty, staff and the administration of Texas A&M. In fact, the alumni organization, The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M, named him an “Honorary Aggie.”
The presentation ceremony also highlighted Bishop Sis’ promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. His example led many others to consider whether God was calling them. During his tenure, Texas A&M became known as a “vocations powerhouse,” with many former students entering the seminary or formation for religious orders. As Vocations Director for the Austin Diocese from 2006 to 2009, he worked to promote a “culture of vocations” that continues to this day. He served as Vicar General of the Austin Diocese from 2010 to 2013, then last January, Pope Francis appointed him as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo.
Hall of Honor inductees were chosen through a nomination and vetting process in partnership with Bryan ISD, Bryan ISD Education Foundation and the City of Bryan. Bishop Sis views this award as less of a personal honor and more as an affirmation of the leadership roles Catholics have in the civic life of the Brazos Valley.
“The Catholic community is strong and well represented in this event, as organizers, honorees, friends and family. This is great evidence of the integration of Catholics in the broader life of Bryan and College Station,” Bishop Sis said.