Broncos’ prayers are answered

Julie Filby
Jesuit Father Philip Steele, left, at the AFC Championship game Jan. 19, with Alan Carruthers, principal of Regis Jesuit's Boys Division.

“For a Broncos’ victory, let us pray to the Lord.”

This, according to Jesuit Father Philip Steele, was among the prayers of the faithful at a private team Mass for the Denver Broncos on the eve of the Jan. 19 AFC championship game when he requested special intentions.

“I’m always kind of delicate when it comes to what we pray for during the prayers of the faithful,” he clarified. Generally intentions include that each player play to the best of his ability, be protected from injury, and that existing injuries heal.

But particularly that night, victory was on the minds and hearts of 15 players, coaches and family members gathered for a 7:30 p.m. liturgy at the team hotel. And victory was the outcome the next day when they defeated the New England Patriots 26-16 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J., where they will take on the Seattle Seahawks.

“I honestly believe God didn’t care if the Broncos or the Patriots won,” said Father Steele, who’s served as a chaplain for the Broncos for eight years. “But he cares that we do.”

Father Steele is the president of Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School, whose Jesuit community has ministered to the Broncos since the school moved their campus to Aurora in 1990, just 3 miles from the team’s Dove Valley headquarters in Centennial.

“It’s a fun way to minister, I enjoy it,” said the Denver native and longtime Broncos’ fan. “Particularly this year under Jack’s leadership. They really want to be there (at Mass). They’re serious about commending their efforts to God.”

“Jack” is Jack Del Rio, second-year defensive coordinator, and a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul in Denver.

Another area priest, Father Terry Kissell, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Aurora, also had an opportunity to minister within the NFL last weekend, celebrating Mass for the visiting Patriots.

“I like the Patriots, I have for years,” said Father Kissell, who regularly visits family near Boston. “It sounded like a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

He learned of it through an email blast from the archdiocese’s Office of Priest Personnel, who received the Mass request from the Patriots’ representative at the Westin Denver Downtown Hotel. Father Kissell was first to respond to the request.

Arriving at the Westin at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 18, he was escorted to a conference room under tight security to celebrate a half-hour Mass—additional team meetings were scheduled for 6 p.m.

In a short homily, the “most abbreviated I’ve given in years,” he said, he referenced the day’s Scripture, as well as Boston Strong, reminding the five men gathered that Boston Nation is everywhere—even on “foreign turf.”

“I couldn’t identify if they were players,” Father Kissel said of the five men attending, though he did recognize team owner Robert Kraft when he was leaving the hotel.

“I thanked them for being at the Mass,” he said. “It shows how much they value it.”

COMING UP: Seminarians give spiritual aid to pro-life warriors

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Witnessing to our faith can be an intimidating task in any realm of the public eye. Those who choose to show this witness in praying for the defense of life know the challenges.

Imagine standing alone outside of Planned Parenthood clinic and praying for the souls of the men and women entering and exiting. You do your best to look at each person that passes, just simply to acknowledge their presence. No one seems to want to make eye contact with you. This avoidance from others makes you feel uncomfortable, insignificant, and you feel the weight of everything you’re confronted with. Despair may easily begin to set in.

The reality is, one can often feel alone in pro-life work. The recognition of this hardship prompted the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary to begin a pro-life apostolate aimed at providing spiritual encouragement.

Last year, with the help of four seminarians, and under the direction of Father Gary Selin and guidance from the Holy Spirit, they began their work. Father Selin, in summarizing the mission of the apostolate told the Denver Catholic, “The St. John Vianney Pro-Life Apostolate is to help form and mentor those people in the pro-life movement, particularly on a spiritual level.”

 With the help of the Respect Life Office of Catholic Charities, the group of seminarians began last year by educating themselves on the spectrum of life from conception to natural death. They continued their ministry with assisting in the twice-yearly 40 Days for Life campaign, which includes praying a rosary outside a Planned Parenthood.

Late last spring, the seminarians in this apostolate led a day of recollection with this focus of ministering to the spiritual leaders of the pro-life movement.

For the seminarians themselves, this apostolate is an opportunity to develop and grow in their abilities to minister to others as future priests. Opportunities for growth are abundant in being able to support future parishioners in pro-life ministry, along with how to educate and invite others within their future parishes to become active in pro-life ministry.              

Father Selin, in commenting on the need for this apostolate said, “Whenever we’re defending life … it brings up often times great visceral, emotional, even violent behaviors. … There’s very much a spiritual battle.”         

Leaders do feel this spiritual warfare at times. That is where The St. John Vianney Pro-Life Apostolate is important for encouragement, spiritual protection, and as being a visible sign of Christ’s hope in conquering death. Seminarians Jonathan Tansill from the Diocese of Phoenix, and Codi Krueger from the Diocese of Helena, will be taking this mission on as the seminarian leaders this year.           

They, along with other seminarians studying in the archdiocese, will be making their presence known throughout 40 Days for Life, which goes from Sept. 28-Nov.6.

This time will afford multiple opportunities to pray in community, strengthen one another, and to give hope for those who wish to inscribe a victory for life into the history books.

We should keep in mind that it’s God’s story we are a part of, said Father Selin, and we are not alone in being faithful instruments in filling the pages: “St. Mother Teresa . . . her famous quotation is ‘We’re not called to be successful, but to be faithful’. . .We have to lift up our eyes and say, ‘We have to do what we’re called to do to be faithful and leave the rest over to God’s divine providence and power because he’s the author of life.’”

40 days for life begins Sept. 28

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