Deacon Steve Hinkle remembered by his care for those in need

Denver Catholic Staff

Deacon Steven Hinkle passed away on May 18.  He was 65 years old.  He ministered at Spirit of Christ Catholic Church in Arvada.

Deacon Steven Douglas Hinkle was born to Clyde and Esther Hinkle in Hugoton, Kansas on March 6, 1953.  As a convert to Catholicism, Deacon Hinkle was baptized at Spirit of Christ Parish on the April 18, 1992 by Msgr. Ken Leone.

The youngest of five children, Hinkle and his family moved to Denver when he was six years old.  His brothers had joined the Air Force, which left him and his sister in the home with their mom.  He attended Alameda High School and graduated in 1971.  After spending time at Red Rocks Community College, he decided to start a business of his own in the construction industry in 1986.

While in high school, he met “his high school sweetheart,” Terri.  After nine years, Hinkle asked Terri to marry him in 1979.  They were married on September 21, 1979 at Mother Cabrini Shrine by Father Bert Chilson. Their marriage was blessed with two wonderful daughters, Ashley and Lindsay and three grandchildren.

Hinkle was reluctant to join the Catholic Church, but with the prayers and urging of Terri and the children, he finally answered the calling of the Holy Spirit, “with tears in his eyes.”  At the 1992 Easter Vigil, he joined his family in the Catholic Church and received the Sacraments of Initiation.  At the parish, Hinkle was on various committees and was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.  Answering a persistent call from the Holy Spirit to serve others, he applied for deacon formation in 2006.

Deacon Hinkle was ordained a deacon on June 25, 2011 by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and was immediately assigned to Spirit of Christ Catholic Parish, where he remained throughout his ministry.  He assisted with prison ministry and would make mission trips to help those in need of housing.  He also assisted parishioners as an advocate for annulments and loved working with the elderly.

“Deacon Steve was a wonderful minister with a simple task — take care of those in need.  His ministry was blessed with beautiful accomplishments that give beauty to the characteristics of a deacon,” said Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel for the archdiocese. “He knew how to draw in those that were in need and take care of them.  What a beautiful example he gave to his brother deacons and the community.”

COMING UP: Why 42 had to be impeached twenty years ago

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Twenty years ago this month, I found myself seriously double-booked, so to speak.

The editing of the first volume of my John Paul II biography, Witness to Hope, was entering the ninth inning, and I was furiously engaged in exchanging edited and re-edited copy with my editors in New York. At the same time, the Clinton impeachment drama was cresting. And as I had long done speechwriting for Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I spent week after week of split time, working on John Paul II from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., then switching to impeachment for a couple of hours before returning to Witness to Hope in the evening.

It was not the optimal way to work but it had to be done, even if it seemed likely that the president would be acquitted in a Senate trial. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted two articles of impeachment and senior House members, including Mr. Hyde, solemnly walked the two articles across the Capitol and presented them to the Senate’s leaders. On toward midnight, Henry Hyde called me and, referring to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, said, “We’re not going to make it. Trent won’t fight; I saw it in his eyes.” After a long moment I replied that, if we were going to lose, we had a duty to lay down a record with which history would have to reckon.

Which is what the great Henry Hyde did during the January 1999 Senate trial, where he bent every effort to prevent the proceedings from descending into farce.

For Hyde, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton was an unavoidable piece of nasty business. It was not a matter of partisan score-settling, nor was it a matter of punishing a president for gross behavior with an intern in the White House. It was a matter of defending the rule of law. As Henry put it to me when it seemed clear that the president had perjured himself and obstructed justice, “There are over a hundred people in federal prisons for these crimes. How can the chief law enforcement officer of the United States be guilty of them and stay in office?”

Impeachment is a political process and it was clear by mid-fall of 1998 that the politics were not breaking toward removing the president from office. They had been pointed that way over the summer, though. And as the pressures built, it seemed as if the Clinton presidency might end as Richard Nixon’s had: Party elders, in this case Democrats, would go to the White House, explain that it was over, and ask the president to resign for the sake of the country. Then around Labor Day that year, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and other columnists began suggesting that, if Clinton were impeached and convicted, the sexual revolution would be over, the yahoos of reaction would have won, and we’d be back to something resembling Salem, Massachusetts, during the witchcraft insanity.

That was preposterous. It was also effective. And within days, at least in Washington, you could fill the templates shifting: This wasn’t about the rule of law, it was about sex and the yahoos couldn’t be allowed to win. (That Henry Hyde was the leader of the pro-life forces in Congress neatly fit this storyline, of course, abortion being a major plank in the platform of the sexual revolution.)

So once the game was redefined — Are you for or against the puritanical yahoos? — there was little chance to wrench the political process back to what it was really about: the rule of law. In his opening speech during the president’s trial, Henry Hyde tried valiantly to refocus the argument, insisting that high office did not absolve a man from obeying his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and his oath swearing to tell the truth to a federal grand jury. To suggest that it did was to “break the covenant of trust” between president and people, dissolving “the mortar that binds the foundation stones of our freedom into a secure and solid edifice.”

It wasn’t a winning argument. But it was the right argument. And on this 20th anniversary, the nation should remember with gratitude those like Henry Hyde who, under fierce assault, stood for the rule of law.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr