Meet Denver’s newest transitional deacons, ordained Feb. 10

Denver Catholic Staff

On Saturday, Feb. 10, four seminarians studying for the Archdiocese of Denver were ordained to the transitional diaconate, putting each of them one step closer to the priesthood.

Adam Bradshaw attends St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver; Julio Cesar Amezcua and Mateusz Ratajczak both study at Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver; and Witold Kaczmarzyk attends Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Detroit, Mich.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and lived what he calls a “pretty typical” life. His family moved to Golden, Colo., in 2005, an he worked at the gift shop at Coors brewery for six years, up until he entered seminary. His home parish is St. Joseph’s in Golden, which is where his faith was planted and fostered. He went through the RCIA program there, which is when he first felt the tug from God toward the priesthood. After being fully received into the Church, he felt on fire for the Lord, and decided to enter the seminary. “I knew God was calling me to something so much deeper than the life I had been living up to that point,” he said. As he gets closer to becoming a priest, Bradshaw is most excited to “bring Christ into the lives of all his children and to administer his sacraments.” St. John the Baptist played a vital role in his discernment of the priesthood, and he requested that Venerable Satoka Kitahara’s name be sung during his ordination, a holy Japanese woman who served the poor in Tokyo after World War II.

Julio Cesar Amezcua

Julio Cesar Amezcua hails from Madrid, Spain, where he was born and raised into a family of five. “My childhood was a happy one,” he recalled. He attended Catholic school and grew up playing soccer and riding horses. When he turned 21, he moved to Denver to study psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. It was there he met Father Angel Perez-Lopez, who helped him grow in his faith and eventually led him to join a community of the Neocatechumenal Way in 2009. After a discernment period of a few months, Amezcua felt the Lord was calling him to enter Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary. The missionary calling of his eventual priesthood is very appealing to him. “This is what excites me the most,” he said. “It means that the Lord can take me anywhere in the world at any moment.” Amezcua served in Boston during his mandatory year of mission outside of the seminary, and saw firsthand the challenges the Church in Boston is facing: intensifying secularization. “This event opened my eyes to the difficulties that we can face in Denver if we don’t evangelize,” he said.

Mateusz Ratajczak

Born in Pila, Poland, in 1989, Mateusz Ratajczak is the eldest of six children. He became attracted the priesthood as early as eight years old, when he began serving as an altar boy. He lost his attraction to this vocation during his teenage years, where he rebelled against his family and his faith. However, at the age of 18, the Lord called him back to the Church through the Neocatechumenal Way, and he eventually entered Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver. He believes it was through the seminary’s patron saint, St. Casmir, that he was sent to Denver. Ratajczak spent three years on mission in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, which he said was a “time of desert” for him, “During which I could experience God’s providence daily.” As he gets closer to the priesthood, Ratajczak said he wants to “share with others the immense mercy of God I experienced in my life. I am very excited to share the Good News of the Resurrection and communicate it through preaching and the sacraments.”

Witold Kaczmarzyk

As a child growing up in Poland, Witold Kaczmarzyk was taught by his parents that “Without God, I could do nothing.” He grew up in a devout Catholic family that cared very much about his education. In 2010, Kaczmarzyk was a student of the faculty of Physics at Warsaw University of Technology, and it was around this time that he began reading the bible to delving deeper into his faith. He would speak with other students about his faith, and it was due to them that his vocation “came to the surface,” he said. He received his parents’ blessing to drop out of the university and began to study theology. After working as a science tutor, a sales clerk in a furniture factory and falling in love with a girl, Kaczmarzyk felt that the Lord was calling him to enter the seminary, so he did. He began attending a seminary in his home diocese of Kalisz, Poland, and eventually transferred to Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Detroit, which specializes in training Polish seminarians to serve in the U.S. He is most excited to “love, serve and walk” with the people of the Archdiocese of Denver in their journey of faith.

Featured image by Anya Semenoff

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