When asked to reflect on his last 10 years serving in the Archdiocese of Denver, Oblates of the Virgin Mary Father Ernest Sherstone replied: “I’m not sure where to begin.”
Father Sherstone, founding executive director of the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, has received a new mission in his congregation and will move to the Boston area in about two weeks. Beginning March 1, he will serve as director of St. Joseph Retreat House for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in Milton, Mass., a Boston suburb.
“I will miss the people in Denver a lot,” he told the Denver Catholic Register. “I hope serving at the retreat house will be a new challenge for me.”
The native of Manitoba, Canada, has served the archdiocese since moving here from Montreal in 2004 to open the Lanteri Center, housed in a historic 1880s building at 22nd Street and Tremont Place. The center launched the first year by providing spiritual direction — guidance and advice — in deepening one’s faith life based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In spiritual direction, a “directee” forms a long-term relationship with a “director”—for a timeframe that could vary from one year to five to more than 10—and the two meet on a regular basis.
One of his longtime directees is Wendy Sue Curley.
“I’m going to miss Father Ernie,” she said. “No matter what my life looked like, whether I was single, married, and now with kids, he was like a gentle father guiding me though each phase.”
When starting spiritual direction eight years ago, she was single and now is married with two young daughters.
“His primary concern has always been my relationship with the Lord,” she added. “What I love about him most is his authenticity… and I’ll miss his dry, witty sense of humor.”
Curley is also a participant in the center’s formation programs for spiritual directors established in 2005.
“We have graduated two classes from the five-year program,” Father Sherstone said. “And there are two classes going on right now.”
Lanteri Center staff consists of priests and laity, as well as graduate students that accompany Christians while growing in their relationship with God through prayer, Scripture and spiritual exercises.
The ministry has now expanded to include a satellite program, offering the formation program over three intense courses over a year.
“With the satellite program, staff will go anywhere in the nation,” he said.
The center has also added a summer residential program that allows participants to come to Denver for two to three weeks each summer over the course of three years, and receive the equivalent of the five-year formation program.
“It allows us to reach people in different ways,” Father Sherstone said, adding that the program reaches beyond the Catholic Church to other Christian denominations.
“It’s an enrichment to our program,” he said of the wide reach. “It provides a wider view of things.”
As of Jan. 1, Oblates Father Greg Cleveland took over as director of the Lanteri Center. Father Sherstone will leave Denver Feb. 28. A farewell gathering is set for Feb. 23. It will begin with noon Mass celebrated by Father Sherstone at Holy Ghost Church at 1900 California St., followed by a reception from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. All are welcome.
“Come and thank Father Ernie for his nearly 10 years of faithful service to the Lord here in Denver,” said Father Cleveland, “and wish him well for the future.”