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: 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