Meet Denver’s newest transitional deacons, ordained Feb. 10

On Saturday, Feb. 10, four seminarians studying for the Archdiocese of Denver were ordained to the transitional diaconate, putting each of them one step closer to the priesthood.

Adam Bradshaw attends St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver; Julio Cesar Amezcua and Mateusz Ratajczak both study at Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver; and Witold Kaczmarzyk attends Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Detroit, Mich.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and lived what he calls a “pretty typical” life. His family moved to Golden, Colo., in 2005, an he worked at the gift shop at Coors brewery for six years, up until he entered seminary. His home parish is St. Joseph’s in Golden, which is where his faith was planted and fostered. He went through the RCIA program there, which is when he first felt the tug from God toward the priesthood. After being fully received into the Church, he felt on fire for the Lord, and decided to enter the seminary. “I knew God was calling me to something so much deeper than the life I had been living up to that point,” he said. As he gets closer to becoming a priest, Bradshaw is most excited to “bring Christ into the lives of all his children and to administer his sacraments.” St. John the Baptist played a vital role in his discernment of the priesthood, and he requested that Venerable Satoka Kitahara’s name be sung during his ordination, a holy Japanese woman who served the poor in Tokyo after World War II.

Julio Cesar Amezcua

Julio Cesar Amezcua hails from Madrid, Spain, where he was born and raised into a family of five. “My childhood was a happy one,” he recalled. He attended Catholic school and grew up playing soccer and riding horses. When he turned 21, he moved to Denver to study psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. It was there he met Father Angel Perez-Lopez, who helped him grow in his faith and eventually led him to join a community of the Neocatechumenal Way in 2009. After a discernment period of a few months, Amezcua felt the Lord was calling him to enter Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary. The missionary calling of his eventual priesthood is very appealing to him. “This is what excites me the most,” he said. “It means that the Lord can take me anywhere in the world at any moment.” Amezcua served in Boston during his mandatory year of mission outside of the seminary, and saw firsthand the challenges the Church in Boston is facing: intensifying secularization. “This event opened my eyes to the difficulties that we can face in Denver if we don’t evangelize,” he said.

Mateusz Ratajczak

Born in Pila, Poland, in 1989, Mateusz Ratajczak is the eldest of six children. He became attracted the priesthood as early as eight years old, when he began serving as an altar boy. He lost his attraction to this vocation during his teenage years, where he rebelled against his family and his faith. However, at the age of 18, the Lord called him back to the Church through the Neocatechumenal Way, and he eventually entered Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver. He believes it was through the seminary’s patron saint, St. Casmir, that he was sent to Denver. Ratajczak spent three years on mission in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, which he said was a “time of desert” for him, “During which I could experience God’s providence daily.” As he gets closer to the priesthood, Ratajczak said he wants to “share with others the immense mercy of God I experienced in my life. I am very excited to share the Good News of the Resurrection and communicate it through preaching and the sacraments.”

Witold Kaczmarzyk

As a child growing up in Poland, Witold Kaczmarzyk was taught by his parents that “Without God, I could do nothing.” He grew up in a devout Catholic family that cared very much about his education. In 2010, Kaczmarzyk was a student of the faculty of Physics at Warsaw University of Technology, and it was around this time that he began reading the bible to delving deeper into his faith. He would speak with other students about his faith, and it was due to them that his vocation “came to the surface,” he said. He received his parents’ blessing to drop out of the university and began to study theology. After working as a science tutor, a sales clerk in a furniture factory and falling in love with a girl, Kaczmarzyk felt that the Lord was calling him to enter the seminary, so he did. He began attending a seminary in his home diocese of Kalisz, Poland, and eventually transferred to Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Detroit, which specializes in training Polish seminarians to serve in the U.S. He is most excited to “love, serve and walk” with the people of the Archdiocese of Denver in their journey of faith.

Featured image by Anya Semenoff

COMING UP: Should the Church talk about money? If we follow Christ’s teaching, yes.

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In Luke Chapter 3, three different groups asked John the Baptist what they should do to bear the fruit of repentance. John gives three answers: 1) Everyone should share clothes and food with the poor; 2) Tax collectors shouldn’t pocket extra money; and 3) Soldiers should be content with their wages and not extort money. Each answer John gives is related to money and possessions, but no one asked him about that! They only ask how to demonstrate the fruit of spiritual transformation. They don’t grasp John the Baptist’s perspective, that he could not talk about spirituality without talking about how to handle money and possessions.

Jesus puts some harsh words in God’s mouth in the “Parable of the Rich Fool.” In Luke 12:20, we hear: “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Alternatively, Jesus provides some great promises on both sides of that parable. In Luke 11:41: “…give alms and behold, everything will be clean for you.” And in Luke 12:33: “…give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven.”

When my wife Cathy and I were experiencing our conversion to the Lord in the early 1990s, we decided we were going to try to live out our Catholic faith to the full: in our attending Mass every Sunday, in our family and in our checkbook.

So, despite four young kids and no way of knowing if we could afford to send them to Catholic school or college, we started tithing. One thing it dramatically did was contribute to our growth in faith and trust in God. We truly believed in God’s promise that He never will be outdone in generosity. And now, 25 years later, we can only rejoice that we still are doing fine despite paying for Catholic schools, colleges and three daughters’ weddings! So what, that we are driving two cars that have 365,000 miles between them!

When we created our will back then, we decided to leave 10% of our assets to the Church. After I became President of The Catholic Foundation in 2012, we became aware of the concept to “treat the Church like one of your children.” We thought that made a lot of sense, so we changed our will to do just that … such that our four children and The Catholic Foundation will each receive 20% of our estate.

Today, we are not sure how our kids will be able to do what we did; with Denver’s crazy housing market, how will they be able to afford Catholic school for their kids, future colleges and, someday, weddings? It looks daunting for them. Shouldn’t we leave them 100% instead of just 80%? For us, it was an easy decision—better to give them a portion with God’s blessing than to think they’d be better off with it all. Besides, they are helping themselves have the best chance possible.

How? By doing their own tithing! I remember years ago, when the business manager at our parish called me to ensure that it was okay that our daughter had made a large contribution to the parish. Cathy and I were unaware she had done so. What had she done? She had tithed her high school graduation gift money. You can imagine how proud we felt.

A “planned gift” through a will or another avenue is the easiest gift to make because it only gets made when we can’t use it anymore – at least, not in this world. Maybe it can be better used by God and his Church. Listen to Revelation 14:13: “I heard a voice from Heaven say, ‘write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, said the Spirit, let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them.’ ”

Cathy and I want our works to accompany us, as we are sure you do, too. We have been saved by Jesus for eternal life – let us make sure our faith in that is manifested in our living and in our giving.

Would you prayerfully discern how God is calling you to steward the assets He has entrusted to you? We hope we and you hear these words someday from Jesus (Matthew 25:34): “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Deacon Steve Stemper is CEO & President of The Catholic Foundation. Please contact him at (303) 468-9885 if you would like a meeting to discuss how your planned giving can be used for God’s Kingdom.