Life was ‘God’s precious and loving gift’ for Denver priest of 60 years

Aaron Lambert

Father Angelo Ossino, a longtime and beloved priest who served in the Archdiocese of Denver for over 40 years, died Feb. 13. He was 86 years old.

Angelo Ossino was born Jan. 6, 1932, in Omaha, Neb., to Samuel and Veta Ossino. He was raised in an Italian neighborhood in Omaha alongside his siblings Fred and Rosemary, both deceased. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Omaha in 1949 and entered Conception Seminary in Missouri shortly thereafter.

Father Ossino was ordained a priest on April 6, 1957, by John Patrick Cardinal Cody. He went on to obtain his Master’s of Library Science from Rosary College in Illinois in 1960, and served as assistant librarian at the Conception Abbey and Seminary Library from 1960 to 1966.

Between 1966 and 1974, Father Ossino taught at various Catholic schools in Missouri and Louisiana and earned his Master’s of Religious Education from Loyola University in Chicago in 1972.

After serving as associate pastor of St. Columbia Parish in Missouri for a year, Father Ossino was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver, where he would serve for the remainder of his priestly career.

His first assignment in the Archdiocese of Denver was at St. Anthony Parish in Sterling. He went on to serve as assistant pastor of St. Jude Parish in Lakewood before being assigned pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Golden. He was pastor there until 1988, when he was reassigned to St. Pius X Parish as pastor. He spent his final years as an active priest there, until his retirement in 2002.

Not one to keep still, Father Angelo stayed busy in his post-retirement years. In 2004, he joined the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America as a cruise ship priest, and served with them ever since.

Last year, Father Ossino celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He said two celebratory Masses at St. Joseph and St. Pius X, both parishes he served as pastor at.

“Life has been God’s precious and loving gift to me,” Father Ossino wrote in a letter last year for the occasion of his 60th anniversary. “I have learned so much about giving and receiving, about faith and prayer, and about treasuring good food, good friends and good wine! I have so much to celebrate.”

COMING UP: Past 25 years remembered, next 25 anticipated at More Than You Realize conference

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“Be not afraid!”

This was the rallying cry at the Aug. 11 More Than You Realize conference, echoing the very same call St. John Paul II gave exactly 25 years ago when he visited Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.

Over 5,000 faithful from across the Archdiocese of Denver filled the seats of the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland at what was the largest Catholic gathering in Colorado since WYD ’93. The all-day conference was presented in both English and Spanish tracks, featured a dynamic lineup of renowned Catholic speakers, and culminated in a powerful commissioning Mass.

The name More Than You Realize and consequently, the logo resembling an eyechart, stems from the idea that almost everything may appear a certain way at surface level, but upon closer inspection, it can be more than one realizes and seen in a different light. This is especially true when it comes to the Catholic Church.

Over 5,000 gathered at the Budweiser Events Center Aug. 11 for the More Than You Realize conference, which celebrated the last 25 years since World Youth Day in Denver and looked to the next 25. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

In planning for nearly two years, pastors from each parish of the archdiocese hand-picked those parishioners and members of their community who they wished to attend the conference, which revolved around the idea of discipleship. Through engaging videos and talks given by speakers such as Chris Stefanick, Luis Soto and Dr. Edward Sri, attendees were invited to join a new movement of discipleship within the archdiocese, echoing the one sparked 25 years ago at World Youth Day.

“[I] had a great rejuvenating time at the More Than You Realize Conference,” said Alex Martinez, a parishioner at St. Pius X Parish. “I am excited to see the MTYR movement take shape.”

Brenda Garrett, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception said, “It was an amazing event, so blessed my pastor Father Ron from the Cathedral Basilica sent me. I am so proud to be part of this movement.”

The key to evangelization

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford spoke before Mass began about the impact of World Youth Day 1993 and the challenges the Church faces today.

“What does the summer of ’93 teach us about our present circumstances in 2018?” the cardinal asked. “The Holy Spirit was sent out in a special mission to our Church in 1993. The power of that sending was unexpected and disorienting to me as archbishop and to most others.”

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford speaks during the More Than You Realize conference. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

But despite urban violence, threats of boycotts, organized protests and other issues prior to World Youth Day 1993, “a fundamental change took place in the Church of Denver,” said Cardinal Stafford, “but not only here — among the young people who came throughout the world, [and] even the Holy Father.

“Above all, our Church was transformed,” he said.

Cardinal Stafford said that to evangelize those who don’t know the Gospel, we first need “…a deep awareness of the delight of the Father taking in each of us as baptized men and women,” he said.

“I would urge you to think deeply and to pray deeply about realizing how delighted God is in you — each of you — because you are received by the Father as being [part of] the body of his Son, who is beloved.”

‘Jesus is much more than you realize’

In his homily given in both English and Spanish, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also touched on what World Youth Day 1993 means for us today.

“The world likes to tell us many things about ourselves,” he said, “and not many of them today are good or uplifting. Just look at the distorted image of beauty that is prevalent today, let alone the distortions of what it means to be a human person…

“The devil is certainly having a field day in a world that has abandoned God, and even in some members of the Church who have a weak faith in Jesus,” he said.

But despite similar issues taking place in 1993, the pope brought to Denver a message of hope.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrates the commissioning Mass that closed out the conference. (photo by Andrew Wright)

“When St. John Paul II spoke to the youth gathered for the prayer vigil on Saturday night at Cherry Creek State Park, he reminded them that God and a much bigger role for them to play in history,” said Archbishop Aquila.

That message is just as important today, within an archdiocese and Church that stand at a crossroads, the archbishop said.

“We have an opportunity to make a major impact for Jesus Christ, even as the surrounding culture is becoming less Christian.”

The pope opened the doors for those who attended to become greater disciples of Christ — not just directly after World Youth Day, but forever.

“St. John Paul II believed in retrospect that a revolution had taken place in Denver,” said the archbishop. “We, today, are the inheritors of this spiritual revolution, and we must not be afraid to put out into the deep to let our nets down for a catch.

“Jesus is much more than you realize. The Church is more than you realize. And your role in the plan of God is much more than you realize or [can] even imagine,” he said.

“And so, I beg you as your shepherd today to open your hearts to Jesus and speak heart-to-heart with him who loves you most.”

Aaron Lambert, Moira Cullings and Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.