Late Deacon Mooneyham was a ‘humble intercessor’

Denver Catholic Staff

Deacon Gene Mooneyham, 83, passed away peacefully the morning of Aug. 5. Deacon Gene began his ministry at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Lakewood and continued his ministry at Light of the World Catholic Church in Littleton.

Everett Gene Mooneyham was born on Aug. 1, 1936 to Fred and Ruth Mooneyham in Atlanta, Ga. Leaving Georgia at a young age, he grew up in Hyattville, Md, and attended public schools. After attending college in Maryland, he joined the United States Air Force in 1959 and served for four years as an electronics technician.

While in the Air Force, he met and fell in love with Doris Jean Nible. On July 30, 1961, Gene and Doris were married at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, La. He was baptized in the Catholic Church shortly after his marriage on Jan. 8, 1962. The couple is blessed with five children; along with eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Gene went on to work in various locations as a systems analyst with computers and eventually came to Lakewood, where he attended St. Jude’s Catholic Church. While at St. Jude’s, he became interested in the diaconate and attended formation. Then on March 22, 1975, Deacon Gene was ordained at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception by Archbishop James Casey. He was in the second class of men ordained into a permanent diaconal status. Archbishop Casey assigned him to St. Jude’s in Lakewood.

In December of 1977, Deacon Gene was transferred by his company to St. Paul, Minn. He ministered there until January of 1986. Then, he and his family relocated from Minnesota back to Littleton. At that time, he was assigned to the newly established Light of the World Catholic Church and remained there until his retirement in 2011.

Deacon Gene was very involved with Marriage Preparation and Religious Education. He was also involved in the Charismatic Renewal efforts throughout his ministry.

“Deacon Gene provided spiritual strength to the diaconate and his communities.” said Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel, “His quiet and confident presence allowed him to be a good and humble intercessor for his brother deacons. We will certainly miss him; but, are confident he is praying for us, even now.”

COMING UP: Local artists choose life in pro-life art show

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For someone who’s always been in love with art, it’s not surprising that Brett Lempe first encountered God through beauty. Lempe, a 25-year-old Colorado native, used his talent for art and new-found love of God to create a specifically pro-life art show after a planned show was cancelled because of Lempe’s pro-life views.

Lempe was “dried out with earthly things,” he said. “I was desperately craving God.”

Three years ago, while living in St. Louis, Mo., Lempe google searched for a church to visit and ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

“I was captivated by the beauty of the 40 million mosaic tiles,” he said.

Lempe is not exaggerating. This Cathedral is home to 41.5 million tiles that make up different mosaics around the sanctuary. Witnessing the beauty of this church is what sparked his conversion, he said, and was his first major attraction towards Catholicism.

Lempe continued on to become Catholic, then quit his job several months after joining the Church to dedicate himself completely to art. Most of his work post-conversion is religious art.

Lempe planned to display a non-religious body of artwork at a venue for a month when his contact at the venue saw some of Lempe’s pro-life posts on Facebook. Although none of the artwork Lempe planned to display was explicitly pro-life or religious, the venue cancelled the show.

“I was a little bit shocked at first,” he said. “Something like me being against abortion or being pro-life would get a whole art show cancelled.”

Lempe decided to counter with his own art show, one that would be explicitly pro-life.

On Sept. 7, seven Catholic artists displayed work that gave life at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Denver.

“Catholicism lends itself to being life-giving,” Lempe said.

The show included a variety of work from traditional sacred art, icons, landscapes, to even dresses.

Students for Life co-hosted the event, and 10 percent of proceeds benefited the cause. Lauren Castillo, Development director and faith-based program director at Students for Life America gave the keynote presentation.

Castillo spoke about the need to be the one pro-life person in each circle of influence, with coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The reality of how many post-abortive women are already in our circles is big, she said.

“Your friend circle will get smaller,” Castillo said. “If one life is saved, it’s worth it.”

Pro-Life Across Mediums

Brett Lempe’s Luke 1:35

“This painting is the first half at an attempt of displaying the intensity and mystical elements of Luke 1:35,” Lempe said. “This work is influenced somewhat by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ painting as I try to capture the moment when the “New Adam” is conceived by Our Blessed Mother.”

Claire Woodbury’s icon of Christ Pantokrator

“I was having a difficult time making that icon,” she said. “I was thinking it would become a disaster.”

She felt Jesus saying to her, “This is your way of comforting me. Is that not important?”

“Icons are very important to me,” she said. “I guess they’re important to Him too.”

Katherine Muser’s “Goodnight Kisses”

“Kids naturally recognize the beauty of a baby and they just cherish it,” Muser said of her drawing of her and her sister as children.

Brie Shulze’s Annunciation

“There is so much to unpack in the Annunciation,” Schulze said. “I wanted to unpack that life-giving yes that our Blessed Mother made on behalf of all humanity.”

“Her yes to uncertainty, to sacrifice, to isolation, to public shame and to every other suffering that she would endure is what allowed us to inherit eternal life.”

“Her fiat was not made in full knowledge of all that would happen, but in love and total surrender to the will of God.”

All photos by Makena Clawson