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Fort Collins pastor embraced ‘journey’ of cancer

Father Steven Voss, the beloved pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Fort Collins, died Saturday, Sept. 10, after a long battle with cancer. He was 37 years old.

A photo gallery from the funeral mass can be seen here, and a video recording of the mass can be viewed here.

Steven Voss was born Dec. 14, 1978, in Denver, Colo. He was the fourth of five children and grew up in a family where faith was a priority. He first considered the priesthood in fourth grade, a call he said in his biography on St. Joseph’s website was “nurtured and heard more clearly throughout [his] K-12 education in the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic schools.” He loved working with children, teaching them about the faith and helping them to know how much Christ loves them.

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Father Voss loved teaching the children the faith and helping them to know how much Christ loves them. (Photo provided)

Father Voss had been diagnosed with cancer at one-year-old and had beaten it twice. Despite his most recent diagnosis, he always remained upbeat and positive. His youngest sister, Christine Voss, remembered that even though he was in and out of hospitals his entire life and doctors told him there was no hope on many occasions, it didn’t once dampen his spirits.

“It never once got to him that doctors would tell him that because he really had his own journey,” she said. “He was never really scared.”

Father Voss was ordained a priest May 12, 2007, and was first assigned to be parochial vicar of Spirit of Christ Parish in Arvada. He also served briefly at Our Lady of Loreto in Foxfield. Since 2010, he had served as pastor of St. Joseph’s, where the community grew to love Father Voss and his “beautifully crafted [homilies],” said Chris Goes, St. Joseph’s Pastoral Council member and friend of Father Voss.

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Father Voss outside of the church of St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France. (Photo provided)

“He was, and always will be in my memory, a very sociable, articulate, non-judgmental and clever gentleman who excelled at and happened to be a most holy, kind and loving priest,” Goes said. “He filled his ‘bucket’ by being with people.”

People were drawn to Father Voss because he was real, and his struggle with cancer made him relatable, Voss said of her brother.

“He was so real. He would genuinely listen to people. I don’t even think it was a challenge for him to empathize with people, it was just his nature,” she said. “People who were going through some pretty hard things in life could come talk to him and he actually understood. He was able to relate with people and gave people comfort because he could genuinely say, ‘I know how you feel. I know what it’s like to be scared.’ I think that’s what set him apart.

“People could relate to his life and therefore follow his path to Christ because it was so real.”

One of Voss’ fondest memories of her brother was four years ago, when he said their mother’s funeral Mass.

“They were really, really close,” Voss said of her brother and their mom. “They had a very special relationship. He struggled a lot with her illness and with her death.”

Still, Father Voss felt compelled to speak about his mother at her funeral. While he was delivering the homily, Voss recalled that her brother stopped midway and acknowledged that he was feeling overwhelmed by his grief and on the verge of breaking down.

I see this only as another part of the journey, a journey I have undertaken hand-in-hand with Jesus Christ. This brings me peace.” – Father Steven Voss in a July 12 letter to St. Joseph’s parishioners

“He really opened himself up to this vulnerability that so many people in his role or in any public role just don’t have the courage to do,” Voss said of her brother. “His illness and everything he’s gone through obviously demonstrates his courage, but I think that the way that he handled himself in that moment, at our mom’s funeral, just showed me that it’s ok to be yourself, regardless of what that looks like or what that feels like.”

“Nothing ever held him back. He was bigger than life,” she said.

There will be two Vigil Services held in honor of Father Voss, one at St. Joseph Parish in Ft. Collins and the other at St. Jude Parish in Lakewood. The funeral Mass for Father Voss will be held Sept. 16 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 10 a.m., and can be livestreamed at archden.org/livestream.

A photo gallery from the funeral mass can be seen here.

Father Voss memorial services

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 7:00 p.m., Vigil Service, St. Joseph in Ft. Collins, 5:30 pm viewing

Thursday, Sept. 15, 7:00 p.m., Vigil Service, St. Jude in Lakewood, 5:30 pm viewing

Friday, Sept. 16, 10:00 a.m., Funeral Mass, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Committal at Mt. Olivet Cemetery followed by a luncheon at Spirit of Christ Parish in Arvada. (Livestream available at archden.org/livestream)

Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.
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