Life was ‘God’s precious and loving gift’ for Denver priest of 60 years

Aaron Lambert

Father Angelo Ossino, a longtime and beloved priest who served in the Archdiocese of Denver for over 40 years, died Feb. 13. He was 86 years old.

Angelo Ossino was born Jan. 6, 1932, in Omaha, Neb., to Samuel and Veta Ossino. He was raised in an Italian neighborhood in Omaha alongside his siblings Fred and Rosemary, both deceased. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Omaha in 1949 and entered Conception Seminary in Missouri shortly thereafter.

Father Ossino was ordained a priest on April 6, 1957, by John Patrick Cardinal Cody. He went on to obtain his Master’s of Library Science from Rosary College in Illinois in 1960, and served as assistant librarian at the Conception Abbey and Seminary Library from 1960 to 1966.

Between 1966 and 1974, Father Ossino taught at various Catholic schools in Missouri and Louisiana and earned his Master’s of Religious Education from Loyola University in Chicago in 1972.

After serving as associate pastor of St. Columbia Parish in Missouri for a year, Father Ossino was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver, where he would serve for the remainder of his priestly career.

His first assignment in the Archdiocese of Denver was at St. Anthony Parish in Sterling. He went on to serve as assistant pastor of St. Jude Parish in Lakewood before being assigned pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Golden. He was pastor there until 1988, when he was reassigned to St. Pius X Parish as pastor. He spent his final years as an active priest there, until his retirement in 2002.

Not one to keep still, Father Angelo stayed busy in his post-retirement years. In 2004, he joined the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America as a cruise ship priest, and served with them ever since.

Last year, Father Ossino celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He said two celebratory Masses at St. Joseph and St. Pius X, both parishes he served as pastor at.

“Life has been God’s precious and loving gift to me,” Father Ossino wrote in a letter last year for the occasion of his 60th anniversary. “I have learned so much about giving and receiving, about faith and prayer, and about treasuring good food, good friends and good wine! I have so much to celebrate.”

COMING UP: ‘Baptize your son,’ her friend insisted. Now he’s a priest.

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Angela Brown and Maria Delfin were great friends in school and lived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. One day, they decided to make a mutual promise: “When I have my first child, you will be the godmother.”

Years went by, each took their own path and Delfin spent most of their time apart in the United States. In 1987, Brown was expect-ing her first child. Delfin found out and did not forget her promise. “When will you baptize him?” she asked. Yet, Brown hadn’t planned on baptizing her child. She had not even received the sacrament herself.

“When I thought of having Maria be my son’s godmother, I saw it more as a social commitment,” Brown told the Denver Catholic. Nonetheless, after her friend insisted, she decided to baptize her son when he was 17 days old.

After baptism, Delfin moved to the United States permanently and lost touch with Brown and Angel, her godson.

Angel grew up far from the Church, but even then, he reflected a charitable spirit: “He liked to share his toys with other kids so they could play instead of him,” his mother said.

At age 14, he attended a class with the Neocatechumenal Way and he and his mother began a journey of faith. Brown was baptized in the faith and married through the Church. Angel discovered his vocation to the priesthood years later. He studied for two years in the seminary at Santo Domingo and then was assigned to Redemptoris Mater in Denver.

Father Angel Perez-Brown (center) was reunited with his godmother Maria Delfin (right) after 31 years at his ordination May 19. His mother, Angela Brown (left) baptized Father Angel under the insistence of Delfin. (Photo by Andrew Wright )

Meanwhile, Delfin knew nothing of Angel. “I didn’t go to Santo Domingo often. I had no way of getting in touch with him,” she told the Denver Catholic.

When Angel was in the seminary, his mother decided to look for Delfin through social media. Months before Angel’s priestly ordi-nation, Brown found Delfin and told her about her son’s wish: “He wants you to be there when he receives the sacrament.” Delfin didn’t hesitate to fly to Denver.

They met the day prior to ordination, 31 years after Angel’s baptism. She recognized him amid other seminarians and said to him, “I’m your godmother,” and he hugged her.

Father Angel Miguel Perez-Brown was ordained May 19 with four other deacons. His godmother presented the gifts during offer-tory. “I don’t remember feeling as happy as I feel today,” Delfin said after Angel’s ordination.

Father Perez-Brown says her godmother “helped plant this seed,” that is why he wanted her “to witness the fruit she has bore.”

“If she had not influenced my mother, I don’t know where I would be today,” the newly-ordained priest said.

Before Delfin’s return to Orlando, Father Perez-Brown told her, “You already had 30 years of vocation as godmother. Now, please pray for me, because only with prayer will I be a faithful priest.”

Featured image by Anya Semenoff