I read your post and decided to google him... I found this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel... I'd love to interview this priest.
Lining up with God
Ex-football player picks priesthood
By TOM KERTSCHER
Cedarburg - If it's a Sunday and you see 6-foot-5 and 365-pound Mike Lightner wearing green and gold, you could be forgiven for musing about the Green Bay Packers rather than your own salvation - even if you are in church.
Father Michael Lightner, ordained May 21, is the first priest in 20 years at St. Francis Borgia who is in his 30s, a longtime member says.
You can't ignore the imposing physical features of the nearly bald and bushy-bearded Lightner, a former college football lineman who could also pass as the leader of a motorcycle gang.
Even with the traditional collar complementing his green-and-gold vestments, the newly ordained Lightner isn't a typical priest - but it's because of what he says as well as how he looks.
Lightner says he became a priest after demanding, and receiving, signs from God.
In a day and age when the Catholic sacrament of confession seems all but forgotten, the 32-year-old Lightner, associate pastor of St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church, is preaching for a return to what is now known as reconciliation.
He credits a confession he made - during a trip to what many believe is the mystical place of Medjugorje - with causing him to join the priesthood rather than try out for the NFL.
"If you want to feel the love of Christ," he says of confessing sins, "this is how you do it."
Mike Lightner was 6 feet 3 inches tall and 285 pounds in eighth grade, well before he ever tried out for the football team at Oconto High School.
He had been born and raised in a sports-oriented family in Oconto, north of Green Bay, the youngest of six children whose parents ran a restaurant.
Art of football
Lightner's play as an offensive lineman earned him a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University to play football. He loved the hitting and the teamwork, saying the art of football is "to get 11 guys beating with one heart."
An amateur sculptor and painter, Lightner chose Eastern Michigan over other schools offering scholarships because of its art program, saying he had wanted to play pro football and then teach art.
In college, Lightner enjoyed partying, dating women and working as a bouncer.
"Everyday college guy. It wasn't like he was a saint from the get-go," recalled Barry Stokes, a fellow offensive lineman at Eastern Michigan.
That changed by the time Lightner became a senior.
"You wouldn't drink a beer in (Lightner's) room," said Stokes, a former Packers offensive lineman who plays for the Atlanta Falcons. "You didn't even want to go into that room because it was holy."
In 1994, during his junior year, Lightner's 3-year-old niece found marijuana he had been carrying on a trip home.
His mother, Joyce - whom Lightner said takes Holy Communion and says 15 decades of the rosary each day - was upset and asked him to join one of the trips she led to Medjugorje.
Medjugorje is a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared and sent messages every day since 1981. It is not officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Lightner said he decided to confess his sins at Medjugorje, but on one condition, telling God: "If you exist, I don't know you. You could be the biggest con the world has ever seen. I can go to reconciliation, but if you don't reveal yourself to me during this week, I'm done with religion."
Lightner said he confessed to misdeeds involving alcohol, drugs and women, and after the priest absolved him of his sins, "it felt like something was standing on my chest."
He said he felt himself pinned to the back of the confessional, screaming in pain, and thinking, "Oh, my God, you're real."
Lightner returned to Medjugorje six months later, in 1995.
He said that as he watched a priest pray over a woman in a wheelchair for more than half an hour, he heard Christ say, "Michael, if I get her out of this wheelchair, will you enter the seminary?"
Lightner said he more or less agreed before watching the woman rise and walk.
Back at school, Lightner finished his senior year and was invited to try out with the Cleveland Browns. He declined.
With his size, smarts and "mean streak," Lightner would have made it in the NFL, said Stokes, who keeps a Medjugorje cross from Lightner's mother in his Mercedes-Benz.
"I think the Lord just grabbed ahold of him," Stokes said. "He figured out who he was and now had to go do it."
After graduating from Eastern Michigan, Lightner worked as a substitute teacher in the Oconto area for a year before beginning his studies for the priesthood.
He earned two philosophy degrees in North Dakota and a theology degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
Lightner said he was about to submit his application for ordination in the Fargo, N.D., diocese, but was not sure about working so far away from a metropolitan area.
He said he decided to sit on the application for two days, telling God he needed to hear from Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan during that time or he would submit the application to Fargo.
Lightner said Dolan called and approved Lightner finishing his work at St. Francis Seminary so that he could be ordained in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was ordained May 21 and assigned to St. Francis Borgia.
Frank Messa, a 52-year member of St. Francis who formerly led the parish council and the school board, said if Lightner's physical presence makes him intimidating, it is quickly allayed by his gentle way.
Messa believes Lightner will appeal to youths at St. Francis, which he said hasn't had a priest in his 30s for at least 20 years.
Comfortable in a cassock
Lightner said some of his practices - adding the "Hail Mary" at Mass and wearing an all-black, full-length cassock around church - make some people wonder if he is more conservative than a lot of priests.
He joked that he wears cassocks merely because they are comfortable and "slimming"; notes that he supports progressive efforts such as strong involvement of lay people in the church; and says, "people who know me know I'm not an arch-conservative."
Lightner said he hopes to be involved with kids at St. Francis, perhaps start a group for men at the parish and return to some of his hobbies, including painting and sculpting. He also enjoys duck hunting, deer hunting and fishing.
Lightner said he watches some football and predicts the Packers will go 10-6 in 2005.
More than any particular career path, Lightner said he wants to follow what he believes God's wishes to be.
"It comes to a point where you're almost living someone else's life - and you are, you're living Christ's life," he said. "It becomes a trust in God and what he wants you to do."