Late Deacon Hastings ’embodied a diaconal love’

Deacon Bill Hastings, 77 years old, passed away April 8 at his home while surrounded by his loving family.   Deacon Hastings spent most of his diaconal ministry assigned to St. Peter’s Parish in Greeley, Colorado. 

Bill Otis Hastings, Jr. was born Feb. 11, 1944, in Denver, Colo. to William Sr. and Gertrude Hastings.  After high school, Hastings joined the U.S. Army during the Vietnam Conflict and then went on to pursue a degree at Colorado State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.   

On May 25, 1968, he married the love of his life, Pamela Miller, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Afterwards, he graduated from St. Mary’s School of Law in 1974.  They were blessed with a daughter, Heather, and three grandchildren.   

Bill practiced law for several years and then worked as an attorney in tax, real estate, and acquisitions for Phillips Petroleum.  His job took him to Amarillo, Tex. and Calgary, Alberta in Canada.   He retired from Phillips Petroleum in 2003.  He really enjoyed the outdoors and would often take time to camp, hike and climb the mountains of Colorado.   

On December 30, 2000, at St. Laurence Cathedral in Amarillo, Bishop Yanta ordained Deacon Hastings to the order of the Diaconate.  There he was immediately assigned to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Amarillo.  Shortly after, his work required him to relocate to Calgary, Alberta where he was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi parish in Calgary.  A couple of years later, Deacon Hastings and his family returned to Colorado and established their home in Greeley.  Deacon Hastings was appointed a Deacon at St. Peter’s, where he was active for the remainder of his life. In 2008, he was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver.   

“Deacon Bill reflected a special love that can only come from Jesus Christ, the Servant,” said Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel, “He absolutely embodied a diaconal love, which poured out of him into his family, his brother deacons, and each person he encountered along the way.  We will certainly miss him.”   

A visitation took place April 15 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church followed by a Vigil Service.  Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Archbishop Aquila April 16, 2021, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Inurnment at Fort Logan National Cemetery was conducted at a later date. 

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”