Colorado Springs priest Father Paul Wicker dies at age 83

Father Paul Wicker, who served as pastor of Holy Apostles Parish in Colorado Springs for more than 35 years, died May 31 at age 83. 

Public visitation will be held on June 5 from 1-5 p.m. at Shrine of Remembrance, America the Beautiful Chapel, and on June 6 from 5-7 p.m. at Holy Apostles, with a rosary and vigil service at 7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will take place June 7 at 11 a.m. at Holy Apostles, with a reception afterwards in the parish hall. Burial will follow at 3 p.m. at Shrine of Remembrance. The funeral Mass will also be livestreamed at holyapostlescc.org

Paul Francis Wicker was born Oct. 21, 1937 in Wichita, Kansas, to Paul and Cleo Wicker. The family later moved from Wichita to Parsons, Kansas. From 1952-1956, he attended St. Francis Preparatory Seminary in Victoria, Kansas, which was run by the Capuchin Franciscan order. After he finished high school, the family moved to Denver, where he began his seminary studies at St. Thomas Seminary. From 1960-64, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Denver on Dec. 18, 1963 at St. Peter’s Basilica. 

Father Wicker returned to Denver in 1964 and served as assistant pastor at St. John Parish until 1969. From 1969-1973, he served as assistant pastor and pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Denver. He served as pastor of All Saints Parish in Denver from 1973-1981. 

In 1981, then-auxiliary Bishop Richard Hanifen asked Father Wicker to move to Colorado Springs and become pastor of Holy Apostles Parish. As pastor, he oversaw the planning and construction of the current parish church, which was dedicated on Sept. 20, 1987. 

In 1994, Father Wicker established Catholic Outreach to Northern Ukraine, a ministry dedicated to helping the Catholic Church in Ukraine rebuild after decades of Communist oppression. 

Father Wicker is survived by a brother, Deacon Byron Wicker and his wife Madeleine; nephews Paul and Joseph Wicker; niece Mary Wicker; and three grand-nieces. 

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Catholic Outreach to Northern Ukraine, online at conuhome.org or by mail to 10936 Klondike Dr., Peyton, 80831. 

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash