A crowd of 3,100 spilled out the church doors and onto the parking lot and filled the basement at St. Cajetan Parish in west Denver March 26 to pay final respects to their beloved pastor, Theatine Father Tomás Fraile.
A father figure to the Hispanic Catholic community, Father Fraile, a priest of 51 years, died March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. A native of Spain and a priest of the Congregation of Clerics Regular (Theatine order), Father Fraile had served at St. Cajetan’s for more than four decades.
His funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and concelebrated by some two dozen Theatine and diocesan priests.
Archbishop Aquila told the congregation that Father Fraile “gave himself tirelessly for more than 40 years.” He gave thanks to Father Fraile for his dedication to the priesthood, and for his “love and unending surrender to the Hispanic community in northern Colorado.
“This was the only parish of the Archdiocese of Denver in which he served. In you all, and in your prayer, your songs, and in your faces we see the fruits of his donation and love for each one of you.”
St. Cajetan’s, founded in 1922 on what is now the Auraria campus in downtown Denver, is the archdiocese’s pioneer church serving Hispanic Catholics. Father Fraile helped oversee the move from the original site to its current location at 299 S. Stuart St.
The archbishop said the longtime pastor will be missed.
“The Hispanic community of San Cajetan’s will live their faith more deeply,” because of what they learned from their pastor, he said.
The archbishop also read a letter from former Denver archbishop, now Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, who resides in Rome. In it, Cardinal Stafford noted Father Fraile’s integrity and fidelity and called him “an exemplary son of the founder of the Theatines, St. Cajetan.”
In his homily, Theatine Father Lawrence Gallegos recalled the priest’s dedicated service.
“How many sacraments he celebrated for you!” Father Gallegos said. “Baptisms, first Communions, confessions. How many of the dying did he assist with last rites? We couldn’t count all this, only God knows and it will be God himself who will reward him.
“This is not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter, for Father Tomás and for all of you, because you are the seed of all that he sowed, you will be the ones who write a new history.”
“Today we say goodbye to Father Tomás, and from above he is responding, ‘with enthusiasm, go forth!’”
In an emotional goodbye, as the hearse carrying Father Fraile to his final resting place made its way through the multitude filling the parking lot, faithful expressed their gratitude by clapping and reaching out to touch the hearse.
Letter from Cardinal J. Francis Stafford on the death of Theatine Father Tomás Fraile
March 24, 2014
Thank you for your thoughtfulness in informing me of the death of Father Tomàs Fraile. I will pray for the repose of his soul tomorrow in the Eucharist and visit the Theatine Church in Rome, dedicated to St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter the Prince of the Apostles. There in the Chapel of St. Cajetan I will give thanks to God for his priestly ministry to the people of the Archdiocese of Denver.
The better I came to know him, the more I admired him. Father Tomàs was a man of integrity, a mature man in Christ. He was known for fidelity. Many admired his quiet loyalty to Father (James) Prohens, his pastor for many years. It showed him to be an exemplary son of the founder of the Theatines, St. Cajetan. In his long and faithful ministry at St. Cajetan’s Parish Father Tomàs became “a huntsman of souls.” A good religious was once described as “one who never pursues what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.” Day in and day out, Father Tomàs was such a religious.
Requiescat in pace.
Lara Montoya and Karna Swanson contributed to this report.