Re-Imagineer: Father Mickey Bancroft

In the first half of your life, you worked for IBM, then opened a stained-glass shop in Vermont, became a well-known model for American Express, Citibank and more. Then in your 40’s, you made a major decision to change your life. Tell us about that. 

All my life I was told, “Mickey is going to be a priest” I can remember my brother and I playing ball and riding our bikes home. Our mother would say to us, “make a visit in the church as you are riding home”. I would stop and my older brother would say, “no thank you” and he would continue to ride home. I would stop and would enter another world. Inside that church I would feel safe, whole and holy. I loved those visits, I loved that feeling!

After many years of this being on my mind, I finally applied and was accepted to the seminary. I was 43 years old when I entered and 48 years old when I was ordained. My seminary years were wonderful. Being the oldest student was interesting, as I had experienced so much of the world. For many of the other seminarians, I was just old enough to be their father. 

You have now been a priest for over 20 years. You just turned 70. Upon reflection, how has life in the priesthood been for you? 

I have now been a priest for twenty-two years. I have loved it. Has it has it’s ups and downs? Of course! Just like being in any committed relationship. 

After serving in different parishes for the first eight years, I was not fulfilled. When I started visiting parishoners in the hospital, it led to taking four courses to become a Hospital Chaplain. After some internships, I spent 9 years doing that and saw many people who had overdosed on drugs and alcohol. I decided to get my CASAC (Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor) degree. When I realized that many times addiction has underlying mental health issues, it then led me to complete a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. (I guess you can say that I’m a lifelong learner!). I then spent four years in a Nursing and Rehabilitation facility and now work as a Board Certified Chaplain in the Hospice field. I’m utilizing all of my gifts, talents and training.  I do not agree wtih everything that the church espouses, but when someone approaches me one-on-one, I am able to help that person on an individual basis.

As you think about your next “Reimagination”, what do you think your 70’s and 80’s will look like?

What will I do after I leave the priesthood? I would like to learn to fish (surf-cast). Fishing has always intrigued me. If I stay where I live, I could learn to fish, it might become a good/healthy hobby. I have had my eye on a property (18 acres) that could be groomed into a lavender farm, or maybe a sheep grazing farm. The possibilities are endless. One truly needs imagination and a dream! 

Once I “rewire” into my next chapter, my religion is still my core. I have also come to appreciate and respect our religious differences and upbringings. To treat all people with dignity, respect and justice are biblical teachings and are the blueprint for a genuine way of loving and wanting to be loved.