Msgr. Horrigan remembered as “humble, faith-filled man”

Therese Bussen

Msgr. Leo Horrigan, after suffering from a long illness, died Sept. 17, 2017, after serving for 56 years as a priest. He was 83.

The longtime Denver resident was born one of seven children on Nov. 20, 1934, in Shenandoah, Iowa, to Edward and Evelyn Horrigan. When he was just three years old, his family moved to Denver.

He attended grade school at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Denver and graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School in Denver in 1952. He attended Regis College from 1952-1953 and St. Thomas Seminary in Denver from 1953-1956. He was ordained on Dec. 20, 1959, in Rome by Archbishop M. O’Connor, and went on to receive his S.T.L. from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1960 and an M.A. from the Catholic University of America in 1966. He was appointed a Prelate of Honor by Pope St. John Paul II on Sept. 25, 2000.

Some of Msgr. Horrigan’s assignments include pastor at St. Philomena Parish, Blessed Sacrament Parish, where he served for 13 years, and Notre Dame Parish in Denver, where he served for four terms. He also served as the Archdiocesan Scout Chaplain and as the ordinary confessor of the Franciscan Motherhouse in Coloorado Springs.

Msgr. Leo Horrigan in 1975, from the Denver Catholic Register archives.

He also served in various Archdiocesan positions including Vicar for Clergy. He was the first to have the position in the diocese, under Archbishop James V. Casey. He retired June 11, 2010.

Father Robert Fisher, who knew him professionally, remembered Msgr. Horrigan as a “tremendously faithful” man.

“I knew him to be incredibly knowledgeable and a very good pastor. He was at the Cathedral while I was a seminarian,” Father Fisher said. “He was a tremendous guy, incredibly faithful. Those that I know who had him as a pastor absolutely loved him.”

Msgr. Horrigan celebrating Mass at Blessed Sacrament in 1976, from the Denver Catholic Register archives.

Msgr. Thomas Fryar, current pastor at St. Thomas More Parish, also served as Vicar for Clergy and explained how the position is a difficult but rewarding one, and that Msgr. Horrigan is remembered as a good pastor because of his experience with that role.

“He was the first one in that role under Archbishop Casey. He helped overseeing priests and their roles in their parishes, and he did it in a very humble way,” Msgr. Fryar said.

Monsignor Fryar knows people who still remembered Monsignor Horrigan as a faithful pastor.

“One thing I’m very aware of is that he had such a profound impact on people that they still remembered him even now. You enter the lives of people and you have no idea how it will touch people in later years [as a priest],” he said. “He was a gentle, loving and faith-filled presence in the community.

“Even in retirement and infirmity, he helped bring the sacraments to people. He was always wanting to be available to share the grace of God with others. He’s a man I really looked up to.”

COMING UP: Catholic Charities joins with St. Raphael Counseling to increase services

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Two Catholic counseling agencies serving the Denver Archdiocese have united to expand services to the community, officials said. The change was effective May 1.

St. Raphael Counseling, founded in 2009, has partnered with Catholic Charities’ Sacred Heart Counseling (formerly Regina Caeli Clinical Services), which was established in 2011. The two are now one ministry under Catholic Charities of Denver sharing the name St. Raphael Counseling.

Licensed clinical psychologist Jim Langley, co-founder of St. Raphael’s, will serve as director.

“Frankly, it seemed kind of silly for two entities to be doing the same thing from the same pool of resources,” Langley told the Denver Catholic.  “I reached out to [Catholic Charities] … to see about removing obstacles. It really must have been from the Lord because there weren’t any big obstacles.”

The combined resources mean clients seeking care aligned with Catholic values will now have access to more therapists and locations: a total of 18 clinicians at 11 offices and six schools across the Front Range region, including Denver, Littleton and northern Colorado.

In the coming months, St. Raphael’s will accept more insurances and will introduce diagnostic testing for behavioral and learning disorders and Autism to families at affordable cost, Langley said.

“We are excited to welcome the team of psychologists from St. Raphael Counseling to Catholic Charities,” said Amparo García, interim president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver. “Under Dr. Langley’s guidance, and with his expertise and business acumen, the team has built a trusted and professional counseling service that is faithful to the Church and compassionate to those in need.

“We are optimistic that offering expanded services in a combined organization will provide an added benefit to the community.”

St. Raphael’s offers individuals, couples and families clinical counseling services for issues ranging from depression and anxiety to grief and addiction. It also offers marriage preparation, school counseling, psychological evaluations for seminary applicants, and counseling for priests and religious. It provides outreach and education through presentations and retreats that integrate psychology and spirituality.

St. Raphael’s is named after the Archangel Raphael, who in the Old Testament Book of Tobit is sent by God to help the young man Tobias confront nature and evil. Raphael helps to bring healing to Tobias’ family. Of Hebrew origin, Raphael means “God heals.”

“The name was chosen very deliberately,” Langley said. “We [as therapists] are only instruments of God’s healing, God’s medicine; it’s ultimately God who heals.

“One of the ways the Lord has given us as a path to holiness is through our own brokenness,” he added. “We all have emotional wounds and the healing of these wounds helps us to become the saints God made us to be.

“We work with individuals and families to help them face their woundedness, their brokenness. We do it in a way that is supportive of their Catholic values and can leverage all the awesome, beautiful things about Catholic spirituality that can help us grow as people.”

The recent suicides of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade show that no one is immune from depression and suicidal thoughts, Langley said.

“Even St. Therese [of Lisieux] said there were moments when she was tempted by the medicine bottle on the nightstand,” he noted about the saint who was named a Doctor of the Church in 1997. “We think of her as being a joyful saint, yet she too struggled immensely with depression.

“If people are struggling, they need help,” Langley said. “But counseling isn’t just for people with big issues. It’s also for those who have normal issues and are trying to have a healthy family life.

“There’s nobody who doesn’t need support and good human relationships.”

RAPHAEL COUNSELING

Visit: straphaelcounseling.com

Phone: 720-377-1359