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.