During the Denver Archdiocese’s annual Chrism Mass in April, priests were honored for their jubilee years of service to the Church. Below are short profiles of four priests who are celebrating 60 years of priesthood ordination.
Father Thomas Dowd
A native Nebraskan and longtime Denver priest, Father Thomas Dowd reached his 60 year anniversary in the priesthood this year.
He was trained in St. Thomas Seminary (now St. John Vianney Theological Seminary) and ordained May 1, 1954, in Grand Island, Neb. Father Dowd spent the beginning of his ministry as a pastor at parishes and a civilian chaplain for the Sioux Army Depot.
He did missionary work in Peru from 1964 to 1970 and became known for his love for Hispanics.
After returning for a short stint as a chaplain at a Nebraska hospital, Father Dowd ministered to migrant workers in Wattenberg and Fort Lupton, Colo.
The priest may be most known for his work at St. Patrick Parish.
Described as a “personable Irishman,” he was sent to begin restoring the church and its dwindling congregation in 1973. Father Dowd oversaw an interior and exterior restoration of the church and in 1997 the church achieved a landmark designation by the city. It was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since leaving the parish in 1983, Father Dowd served as a facilitator between Latin America and the United States for four years. He became the director of Hispanic Ministry in Tulsa, Okla., until his retirement in 1993.
Father Dowd now lives in Wheat Ridge.
Father Daniel Flaherty
A Denver native and Colorado resident for almost his entire life, Father Daniel Flaherty served at many parishes and in several capacities over his six decades as a priest.
He attended St. Catherine of Siena Grade School, the Colorado School of Mines in Golden and later St. Thomas Seminary. He was ordained a priest May 29, 1954.
Father Dowd’s first assignment was working for the Denver Catholic Register, and for a period as its editor and business manager. During this time he also served in residence at St. Anthony of Padua and Holy Family parishes.
After serving as associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul in 1972, Father Flaherty became the pastor at Our Lady of the Mountain in Estes Park.
He then conceived the idea for a small, nontraditional parish called Spirit of Peace Parish in Longmont. It shared facilities with a Presbyterian church, allowing more parish funds to be directed to ministries and outreach efforts while developing a respect for Christian brothers and sisters of a different faith.
He left the parish and lived in residence at St. Mark Church in Westminster and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder until he was reappointed to Spirit of Peace from 1993 to 1999.
He is retired and in residence at St. Louis Parish in Louisville.
Father Jan Mucha
Father Jan Mucha, who hails from Poland, spent much of his 60 years as priest as a missionary and teacher across the country.
He attended seminary in Tarnow, Poland, and was ordained Dec. 19, 1954. He then taught Latin at Sacred Heart House in Mszana Dolna, Poland, and was an assistant pastor at St. Teresa Church in Lublin. He continued missionary work through 1970 in Krakow and other Polish cities.
When he came to the United States in the early 1970s, Father Mucha was assigned to serve at St. Joseph Polish Church and was eventually named pastor. At the time the parish was in danger of closing but now boasts of crowded pews.
Father Mucha served for almost four decades before retiring in 2010. He was officially incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver in 1978.
He now lives at the Little Sisters’ Mullen Home for the Aged.
Father James Purfield
A Colorado native, Father James Purfield served much of his 60 years of priestly ministry at parishes across the Front Range.
Born in Colorado Springs, Father Purfield studied at colleges in Wyoming, Louisiana and California before attending St. Thomas Seminary in Denver. He later earned a master’s degree in religion from the Catholic University of America.
After he was ordained May 29, 1954, he served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick Parish and pastor at St. Peter Parish in Fleming, making him the eighth pastor of the church. He also served at Holy Cross Church in Thornton before becoming a missionary in Mexico in the mid-1970s.
He returned to Colorado and became pastor at St. Augustine Church in Brighton and also at parishes in Hugo and Limon.
Father Purfield then served at All Souls Parish in Englewood in 1983 and then All Saints Parish in 1984, from where he will retire this month.