The good guys do exist: Catholic senators serving our state

Therese Bussen

The good guys don’t make the headlines very often. So here’s a friendly reminder that, in the political world, they do still exist.

Senators Kevin Priola and Jack Tate are both Catholic family men who were concerned about their community and decided to take action. And most importantly, their faith remains central to their lives and informs their service to the state.31`

This is the first of what we hope will be many profiles of Catholic legislators serving in the State Legislature. To start, here are two of your senators and their most important issues – you might be able to say hello if they go to your parish.

Kevin Priola – Republican, Senate District 25

kevinpriolaSenator Kevin Priola grew up a Colorado native and

attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, graduating with a business degree.

Priola got involved in politics because of his concern for
the state, especially after having children, and the environment they would grow up in, he said.

But his faith is most important.

“I try to live my life informed by my faith and let my faith direct decisions I make serving,” Priola said.

Priola is especially passionate about green industry issues at the Capitol, opposes new taxes and fee increases and believes in the importance of private property rights, especially small businesses. Other issues listed on his website include quality education standards, keeping sexual predators safe from families and reducing traffic congestion with transportation solutions. He also believes in the commitment to the protection of human dignity, beginning at conception and ending at natural death.

He and his wife, Michele, a fifth grade teacher, have four children and live in Adams County. On their days off, they enjoy hiking, camping or skiing. They attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn.

For more information, visit his website, http://kevinpriola.com.

Jack Tate – Republican, Senate District 27

Jack TateOriginally from Nashville, Tenn., Senator Jack Tate has been a resident of Colorado for 18 years. He received an engineering degree from Duke University and graduate degrees from the University of Colorado Denver in finance and marketing. He also completed graduate work in political science and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Important issues include creating jobs, attending school needs, fixing problems with rising housing costs, energy efficiency, constitutional rights and attending to fixing the healthcare system.

“I am not the guy with all the answers,” Tate says on his website. “Instead, I’m the guy who can listen, understand and work hard to discover those answers and solve problems…We must seek thoughtful solutions as opposed to making ‘pie in the sky’ promises. We should ask that of all politicians.”

Tate and his wife Kathleen, a physician and surgeon in private practice, attend Our Lady of Loreto Parish with their three children and his interests include youth soccer and basketball, literary interpretation, Colorado railroad history, skiing, tennis, golf and fishing.

For more information, visit his website, http://jacktate.org.

Get to know your state legislature leadership

As the Colorado state legislative session opens, it’s good to know who some of the key players are. Just as knowing your local mayor and state governor is important, it’s good to know who’s who in the Colorado House and Senate. It’s also worth noting that the House of Representatives is a Democrat majority, while the Senate is a Republican majority.

House Majority: Democrats by nine seats
65 seats – 37 Democrat, 28 Republican

KC BeckerHouse Democrat leader – KC Becker (D)

District 13
Counties: Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson
Issues: Poverty, Forest Health, Public Health, Energy and the Environment, Death Penalty

Patrick Neville picHouse Republican leader – Patrick Neville (R)

District 45
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Traditional Family Values, Religious Liberty, Education, Right to Work, Health Care, Illegal Immigration, Energy

Senate Majority: Republicans by one seat
35 seats – 18 Republican, 17 Democrat

S-Holbert, ChrisSenate Republican leader – Chris Holbert (R)

District 30
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Environment, Education

Lucia GuzmanSenate Democrat leader – Lucia Guzman (D)

District 34
Counties: Denver
Issues: Education, Energy, Agriculture, Human Rights

COMING UP: Father Jan Mucha remembered for his ‘joy and simplicity’

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When Father Marek Ciesla was 11 years old, he encountered a priest in his hometown in northern Poland who was visiting his parish on mission.

“I was impressed,” said Father Ciesla. “A couple of my friends and I were talking about how energetic, how wonderful this priest was. I think in this way he inspired us a little bit to follow the call to the priesthood.”

The priest was Father Jan Mucha, and little did Father Ciesla know that decades later and an ocean away, he would reunite with the man that inspired him and his friend to pursue the priesthood.

In 2010 when Father Mucha was retiring from his role as pastor of St. Joseph Polish Catholic Church in Denver, Father Ciesla was sent from Poland to the Archdiocese of Denver to take his place.

The priests spent two days together, and Father Ciesla was struck by the familiarity of Father Mucha.

“For some reason, the way he was talking and the words he was using, something rang a bell,” he said. “I asked him if he remembers visiting my parish. And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I had it on my list. I remember.’”

Father Ciesla was amazed that the man he was there to replace was the same one who had impacted his life all those years ago.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Father Ciesla. “I never thought I would meet him again.”

Father Mucha passed away March 21 after serving the archdiocese for 40 years. He was 88 years old.

Father Mucha was born March 16, 1930 in Gron, Poland to parents Kazimierz and Aniela Mucha. He was one of five children. Father Mucha attended high school in Kraków and went on to study philosophy and theology at a seminary in Tarnów.

Father Mucha was ordained December 19, 1954 in Tarnów by Auxiliary Bishop Karol Pękala. He served at St. Theresa Parish in Lublin, Sacred Heart Parish in Florynka and as a Latin teacher at Sacred Heart Novice House in Mszana Dolna.

He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver on April 20, 1978. Before he was granted retirement status in August of 2010, he served at St. Joseph Polish for nearly 40 years.

“Father Mucha was dedicated to his people and there was a joy about him,” said Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, who had known Father Mucha since his own ordination in 1974 and more recently within his former role as Vicar for Clergy.

“I admired his joy and simplicity,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He seemed to have no guile and what you saw is what you got. He was very proud of his Polish heritage and was unafraid to be Polish.”

Father Mucha’s move to the United States came about after he visited St. Joseph Polish while on vacation. The pastor at the time was sick, and parishioners asked Father Mucha to stay.

After receiving approval from his superiors in Poland and the archbishop in Denver, Father Mucha did stay, and ended up serving the parish for nearly four decades.

“He was happy to serve here,” said Father Ciesla. “All the time, he was a man of faith. He kept his eye on Jesus.”

Msgr. Schmitz believes Father Mucha’s faithfulness and tenacity as a priest will leave a lasting impression on those he served.

“He was dedicated to the priesthood and didn’t want to retire until he was sure his people would be well taken care of,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He could come across as tough, but really he was a compassionate person [with] a heart open to the Lord’s work.”