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HomeApostolic MindsetDiamond in the rough: Priests find faith and vocations at CU Boulder

Diamond in the rough: Priests find faith and vocations at CU Boulder

While known to some for its party culture, multiple Denver priests think of the University of Colorado in Boulder as a turning point in their discernment. Three priests share their experience at the university and its impact on their vocation.

Father Micah Flores

(Photo by Anya Semenoff/Archdiocese of Denver)

The place where we first encounter God in a deep way shapes our journey of faith, said Father Micah Flores. For Father Flores, this was CU-Boulder.

“[It’s] the place where faith was born in my heart. I will never forget this place,” he said.

While in high school, he had different experiences on retreat, or being invited to adoration that began to sow seeds of faith, Father Flores said.

“I had different touchpoints with God,” he said. A retreat senior year in high school opened up the question of vocation to Father Flores, a question he began to explore in Boulder.

While at CU, Father Flores experienced community and sacramental life at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center. The Catholic center provided beautiful liturgies, community and events.

“I think the biggest thing is who you become friends with in college,” he said. An acquaintance approached Flores at the open air Mass held at the beginning of the school year and told him Flores was going to be in his FOCUS Bible study, and the following weekend they were going camping.

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“Those who were there were in and zealous,” he said of the St. Thomas Aquinas Center, lovingly referred to by many as St. Tom’s.

“[Our] very own Archbishop Aquila was a CU Buff,” Flores said. “He had a special love for CU too. When he came back as archbishop, he invested a lot in the community.”

Community and involvement in different apostolates such as FOCUS, Camp Wojtyla, and Christ in the City fortified Flores in the faith.

“In Boulder, it’s such a huge mission field,” he said. “ It’s kind of the heart of secular culture. It’s a beautiful place to proclaim the gospel. Kind of a scary place, but beautiful nonetheless.”

Father Flores reflected that there is not much room for lukewarmness in the faith at CU.

“You either decide to go all in, or just slowly but surely get sucked into the culture,” he said.

Seeing the party culture had a big impact on Flores’ discernment.

“Jesus came to rescue those people and I want to be part of that,” he said.

There was a running list at one time of CU alum priests that had 16 or 17 names, Flores said. Flores left CU after his junior year to enter the seminary and jokingly referred to himself as a seminarian dropout: “A lot of those seeds planted in my time at CU came alive and unfolded in seminary.”

Father Flores now serves as parochial vicar at Most Precious Blood Parish. He was ordained this past summer of 2022.

Father Chris Considine

(Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

Going with the flow is not an option for Catholics at CU, said Father Chris Considine. You have to know the faith and live it there.

Considine attended CU from 2009-2011 to study engineering. He left after his sophomore year to discern the priesthood and was ordained in 2020.

“I think I had to live my faith well because everyone was so against the faith,” Father Considine said. “When you’re in Antarctica, you better learn how to wear warm clothes and make igloos.”

The St. Thomas Aquinas Center was also a refuge for Father Considine.

“It was a place where I learned about the fullness of humanity,” he said.

Considine had a good group of friends who started a men’s household to live together and be accountable to one another, he said. These men made up the first Tipi Loschi household. This translates to “the shady characters” in Italian as a nod to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati’s group of close friends he called by the same name.

He also spoke of the reverence and beauty of the Masses celebrated at St. Tom’s.

“[There were] beautiful liturgies because God was there,” he said. “We’re worshiping God, so going to try to do it well.”

Considine is now a chaplain at the Colorado School of Mines while assigned to St. Joan of Arc Parish in Arvada.

Father Shaun Galvin

(Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Father Shaun Galvin not only became open to a vocation while at CU, but discovered the joy of his Catholic faith. Father Galvin grew up in Minnesota, and while feeling homesick at Boulder, decided to look to the Church.

“I need to make some friends and I want them to be more wholesome,” he said. “I’ll go find some friends at church.”

Father Galvin attended a Buffalo Awakening retreat in the spring semester of his freshman year.

“God just showed me his presence,” he said. “[There were] lots of small signs that God was there.”

God’s presence coupled with the example of young people taking their faith seriously overwhelmed Father Galvin with gratitude, he said.

“I was full of life for weeks afterwards,” he said.

After the experience on retreat, he “took advantage of literally everything St. Tom’s had to offer,” Father Galvin said.

He began to think about a vocation several months after Buffalo Awakening. However, it wasn’t until during his time as a FOCUS missionary that he said he felt clearly called to the priesthood.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Center was a place Father Galvin could turn to when he experienced the challenges of worldly life in Boulder.

“It made the community more important,” he said. “You were challenged everywhere else.”

“The phrase ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more’ is true,” he said. “[God’s] working for his kids, his children.”

Father Galvin returned to Boulder for his first assignment as chaplain at the St. Thomas Aquinas Center after his ordination in 2017. He served there until 2020, at which time he was appointed pastor at Immaculate Conception in Lafayette, where he continues to serve.

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