“You are called to be slaves for the people of God,” Archbishop tells newly ordained men

On Dec. 27, the Feast of St. John the Apostle, two men were ordained for the Archdiocese of Denver – one to the priesthood and one to the transitional diaconate.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila presided at the ordination Mass of Joseph Grady, now Father Grady, and Francesco Basso, now Deacon Grady. Father Grady studied at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, but spent his last year in Seminary studying in Rome, while Deacon Basso has been studying at Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary.

“It could be not be more appropriate than to celebrate the ordination rites of the church on this feast of the apostle [John], who is known as the beloved disciple, as the one who rested his head upon Jesus’ heart at the Last Supper, and as the one who first believed that Jesus was truly risen,” Archbishop Aquila said in his homily.

To the newly ordained men, Archbishop Aquila had a message reminding them of the servitude of their vocations.

“My dear sons, you are called to be slaves for the people of God,” he said. “You can never depend on yourselves, but you can always depend on the grace of Jesus Christ. If you depend on yourselves, you will only become resentful and bitter.”

Father Joseph Grady

Joseph Grady grew up in Broomfield, Colo., and his home parish is Nativity of Our Lord Parish. He comes from a strong Catholic family and he attended the parish’s school growing up, which he said planted the seed for his eventual vocation to the priesthood.

“As a kid in elementary school, your life is the school and your family,” he told Denver Catholic. “I was blessed to grow up with a stable Church community and to be taught that life is good as is worth sharing with a community.”

Some of his heroes include St. John Paul II, St. John Vianney and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. He said he’s also been helped greatly by mentors and friends in the Communion and Liberation movement, both in Denver and Rome.

“I think I can easily reduce Christianity to a series of things to do, or a job to get done, or an institution to maintain. This friendship has helped me to see that instead, it is an event, something that happens now, and remains present in the faces and circumstances around me,” he said.

During his ordination, Archbishop Aquila told Father Grady that in his priesthood, “it is essential that you proclaim the word of God, most of all in your own personal holiness of life. When people look at you, they must see that you are a man of faith.”

“Open your heart to that grace. Open your heart to that call to holiness,” he added.

Father Grady will be studying at Gregorian University for the next six months finishing a specialization in Dogmatic Theology, then will return to Denver to be assigned to a parish.

Deacon Francesco Basso

For Francesco Basso, the most beautiful thing about the priestly vocation is “to give a word that can change the life of a person, because the word has immense power,” and “administrate the forgiveness of sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation,” he told the Denver Catholic.

The new deacon was born in Sicily, Italy. He studied in Padua, a city where his “faith was born and grew,” since it was there he joined the Neocatechumenal Way. Within this path of faith, Francesco realized that God called him to live “intimately with him” through the vocation to the priesthood.

Francisco is the eldest of four children. He is also the only man. He was seven years old when his father died at the age of 32 in the so-called “Bologna Massacre,” a terrorist attack in 1980 at a train station in the Italian city of Bologna in which 85 people died and 200 were injured.

His mother, a young widow, decided to move near Venice, to be with his father’s parents who lived there. The suffering of his mother and his sisters, and her difficult relationship with his grandparents were a cause of constant pain for Basso.

He had been baptized in the Catholic Church, but nevertheless his relationship with God was ordinary. 

“In Italy, to be Catholic is a cultural thing.” Basso said. “There used to be a kind of Christian culture but this doesn’t mean faith because of what my life was showing. Even if I believed in God and I used to go to Sunday mass and maybe do some activity with the youth group, I cannot say I was Christian.”

The pain he experienced led to some bitterness and resentment that he held onto in his heart, he said. However, when he was writing his thesis as an electronic engineer, Basso approached one of the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way in Padua.

“I went to some meetings to help a friend of mine–supposedly he was the one that had some issues and trouble–but actually those meetings were for me and started to change my life,” he said.  “For the first time I experienced that Jesus Christ is alive now and active and with these experiences and knowing that Jesus Christ was present when my father died, it was not forgetful for me and my family. This was something that really started to change my heart, to touch my heart, and the heart of my family.”

After encountering God’s Mercy, Basso found his call to the priesthood. He was almost 35 years old when he moved to Denver to begin his formation at the seminary Redemptoris Mater.

To Deacon Basso at his ordination, Archbishop Aquila said: “As you are ordained a deacon today you will be configured to Christ the servant. You will be called to serve as Christ served. You are entitled to nothing, and it is important to understand that in the culture and times in which we live. Your task, like Jesus’ task, is to do the will of the Father from the heart.”

Carmen Elena Villa contributed to this report.

COMING UP: ‘You belong to the Father,’ Archbishop tells Bishop Rodriguez at ordination

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It was a joyous day for the Archdiocese of Denver Nov. 4, when new auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez was consecrated to the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Cardinal J. Francis Stafford.

Watch the full ordination of Bishop Rodriguez here.

Watch highlights and hear Bishop Rodriguez reflections of the ceremony here.

Over 200 priests and deacons, 10 bishops, one abbot and countless friends, family and laypeople filled Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for the occasion. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, was also in attendance and read Pope Francis’ apostolic mandate dated Aug. 25 appointing Bishop Rodriguez to the episcopal office.

“Beloved son, as we place this responsibility upon you, it is our fervent prayer to the Lord that you zealously serve the faithful in the Mile High City so very dear to us and who are under the protection of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception and the paternal intercession of St. Francis of Assisi,” the Holy Father wrote in the letter.

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 4: Bishop-Elect Jorge Rodriguez supplicates himself before the altar during his Episcopal Ordination Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on November 4, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

Bishop-Elect Jorge Rodriguez prostrates himself before the altar during his Episcopal Ordination Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Nov. 4. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

During his homily, Archbishop Aquila recounted meeting Bishop Rodriguez 18 years ago in Rome, as the rector of the newly-opened St. John Vianney Theological Seminary looking for new faculty.

“Neither you nor I and that point in history knew what God’s plan would be for our lives, and little did you know that almost two decades later, you would become the auxiliary bishop,” he told the new bishop.

Archbishop Aquila urged Bishop Rodriguez to heed closely the prayer of Jesus from the Gospel of John (Jn 6, 14-19) read at the ordination Mass and recognize that it is a prayer that extends to his ministry as the auxiliary bishop of Denver.

“Listen to the prayer of Jesus in the Gospel you have chosen for today,” Archbishop Aquila said. “That prayer is prayed not only for the disciples, but it is prayed by Jesus for you today. You belong to the Father.”

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 4: Bishop Jorge Rodriguez thanks the assembled during the Episcopal Ordination Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on November 4, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

Bishop Jorge Rodriguez thanks the assembled during his Episcopal Ordination Mass. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

He added, “Let the words of Jesus penetrate your own heart, for it is he and the Spirit and the Father who consecrate you today as their bishop.”

Archbishop Aquila told Bishop Rodriguez he would be a “tremendous blessing” for the Latino community in northern Colorado, where 60 parishes offer Masses said in Spanish and over 50% of Catholics come from a Latino background.

For his concluding remarks, Bishop Rodriguez expressed his gratitude to the Lord and to all who have supported and prayed for him as he enters into the episcopate. He was especially grateful to the faithful he has served during his 10 years of service to the Archdiocese of Denver.

“I love you all,” he told the congregation. “You cannot imagine how important you’ve been in my life. The most important gift I have received are the people in the pews.”