An ex-slave from Hannibal, Missouri, who found her way to Denver and the Catholic Church in the late 1800s, is now the first person the Archdiocese of Denver has proposed for sainthood.
The canonization process for Denver’s “Angel of Charity,” Julia Greeley, was officially opened with a special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 18.
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrated the Mass, during which the official edict proclaiming Greeley’s cause for sainthood was presented before the congregation, and members of the historical council and tribunal responsible for investigating her heroic virtues were sworn in.
“It is a historic movement for the Archdiocese of Denver as we move forward the first of the sessions toward the canonization of the servant of God, Julia Greeley,” Archbishop Aquila said during his homily. “It is truly wondrous when one looks at this simple, humble woman – a laywoman who is known because of her deep faith in Christ.”
David Uebbing, chancellor of the archdiocese, was sworn in Sunday as the vice-postulator of the cause, which means that he will help to oversee the investigation. “For the first time in the 129-year history of the Archdiocese of Denver, we have officially begun investigating the possibility that a saint lived in our midst,” Uebbing told Denver Catholic.
“I have already seen how news of Julia Greeley’s cause opening has brought joy and inspiration to people throughout northern Colorado,” he added, “and I believe that as knowledge of her spreads, more people will seek to follow her example of love for the poor and marginalized, in imitation of Jesus’ Sacred Heart, which she loved so much.”
Mary Lesiring, current director of the Julia Greeley guild, retraced the life of Julia Greeley at the Mass. An impoverished woman herself, Greeley was known for hauling goods around in a red wagon to families who were facing hardship, and she often did so using the cover of night so as to avoid bringing shame to those she helped.
She would also deliver Sacred Heart pamphlets to the firehouses around Denver, providing spiritual encouragement for those men who were in the dangerous profession of being firefighters.
“She’s a model for me,” Lesiring said of Greeley. “We’re all called to be saints, and it just goes to show that an ordinary person can become extraordinary. For some of us, she’s already a saint.”
The next session of the diocesan phase of the canonization process will take place Feb. 21. Capuchin Friar Father Gene Emrisek will be called as a witness to testify for Greeley’s reputation of holiness. Father Emrisek founded the Julia Greeley Guild in 2011.
When the diocesan phase of the investigation into Greeley’s possible sainthood closes, the investigators will send a report to the Vatican counting their findings. The Pontifical Commission for the Causes of Saints will then decide whether or not to continue along with the process.
For more information, visit JuliaGreeley.org.
Heavenly Father, your servant Julia Greeley dedicated her life to honoring the Sacred Heart of your Son, and to the humble service of your children, especially the poor.
If it be in accordance with your holy will, please grant this favor I now ask through her intercession, ________.
I also ask, in the Name of Jesus, whose Sacred Heart filled Julia’s heart with love for all she met, that I may follow her example of humility and simplicity in loving you and my neighbor. Amen