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He was born in Le Havre, his working-class Catholic family was also involved with Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (Young Christian Workers). However, his father had died when he was 14. Therefore Michel began to work. He sought meaning of life and entered the seminary at St Jean in 1938.Thereafter he went to seminary of Rouen in 1942, and finally he was ordained as priest in July 1947 at the abbey at St Oeun. In 1947 he became a priest. His work as a youth chaplain for the town and a writer was focused on young people.
After Advanced Studies at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences, as a researcher and practitioner, he developed a method of inquiry which will later be known as an urban classic. He wrote a thesis on a sociology of the old Rouen City. Afterwards he returned to Le Havre as vicar, later becoming a parish priest from 1949 to 1953.
As a post-war chaplain of Catholic Action in conjunction with major religious initiatives he published in 1954 Prayers of life which he wrote as young priest at age 33, brought him a huge success: 2,500,000 copies have been sold throughout the world, and he often appeared on French television and radio. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 1996, but decided to forgo chemotherapy fearing it would make him too weak to work, and instead devoted the rest of time completing his last book, which he did before in death in Le Havre on December 18, 1997.
His books are still being published and millions of copies have been translated into 27 languages up to now. His literary work is particularly well known in Latin America.
- Prayers Of Life, 1954
- Meaning Success, 1963
- The Christian Response, Gill and Son, 1965. ISBN 0717100278
- Christ Is Alive, Gill and Macmillan, 1971. ISBN 0717105075.
- I've Met Jesus Christ, 1972 ISBN 0385028024.
- Meet Christ And Live, 1973
- Living Words, Dimension Books, 1982 ISBN 0871931966.
- Meeting God. Gill and MacMillan, 1985. ISBN 0871932229
- With Love, Ann Marie: Letters for Growing Up (tr. by Charles Benedict Davenport). Newman Press, 1986.
- The Breath Of Love, Crossroad, 1987, ISBN 0824508521.
- New Prayers. Crossroad Publishing, 1990. ISBN 0824509838.
- With Open Heart (tr. by Colette Copeland), Gill & MacMillan, 1992. ISBN 0717118185.
- Pathways of Prayer (tr. by Hester Pemberton). Wilton 65, 2003. ISBN 0947828931.