Officer Eric Talley’s life honored and celebrated during funeral Mass at Cathedral

Catholic News Agency

By Jonah McKeown/Catholic News Agency

A funeral Mass was held Monday in Denver for Officer Eric Talley, a Catholic father of seven who was killed while responding to last week’s mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. 

“Eric has shown what is best about the service you give to our community, our cities, and to our country,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in remarks to the shoulder-to-shoulder packed congregation, many of whom were police officers. 

“As police officers, I want to honor you, because too often you are taken for granted. And yet in situations like this, you are the ones who protect human life,” Aquila said. 

The Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite by Father Daniel Nolan, FSSP of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Littleton, Colo. 

In addition to a packed congregation at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver, more than 1,400 people tuned into the livestream of the Mass. The Archdiocese of Denver covers nearby Boulder as well as much of northern Colorado. 

Talley, 51, was reportedly first on the scene in response to a gunman opening fire at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder on March 22. The gunman shot and killed Talley, along with nine other people. 

Talley’s casket, wrapped in a black-and-gold shroud, sat in front of the altar in the basilica throughout the Mass. 

Before the start of the Mass, officers in a line of police vehicles, including dozens of police motorcycles, had processed along Colfax Avenue to the cathedral to pay their respects.

Archbishop Aquila offered the “condolences of the entire Catholic community, for your husband, for your dad, and for your son.” 

Talley gave his life to save others, Aquila said, and he quoted the words of Jesus: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Aquila said based on the testimonies of Talley’s fellow officers, “Eric lived that.” 

“It is evident he was a man of God, one who put Christ first in his life,” Aquila said, offering prayers for the police officers in attendance.

Talley joined the Boulder police department in 2010 at age 40. 

“May our Lord continue to comfort you…in the days ahead,” Aquila concluded, speaking to Talley’s family, which includes seven children ranging in age from seven to 20.  

Father James Jackson, FSSP, pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, said in his homily that the tragedy of the shooting in Boulder “broke God’s heart,” and told the congregation that Jesus bore the pain of the shooting at his crucifixion. 

The priest read from a sermon on the Agony in the Garden by St. John Henry Newman, which reads in part: “[Suffering] is the long history of a world, and God alone can bear the load of it.”

Jackson said the purpose of a requiem Mass is to give God worship, and to thank God for the creation of the person who died. 

“What a creation he was,” Jackson said, calling Talley “a faithful and heroic officer of the law.”

Nevertheless, Jackson said, Talley would not have wanted to be “canonized” at his funeral, preferring instead prayers for his soul and for his family, recognizing that Talley was a human being in need of God’s salvation.

He noted that Jesus’ redemptive suffering and resurrection on the cross was done for Eric, and for all: “Even for his enemies.”

Police have arrested 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa in connection with the shooting. He is facing 10 counts of first-degree murder, Boulder Police said. Officials have not discussed a possible motive for the shooting, though his defense attorneys have requested he be assessed for mental illness.

A non-denominational memorial service is planned for Talley on Tuesday, March 30 at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colo. 

A GoFundMe page created to support Talley’s family has raised nearly $1 million as of Monday. 


Featured image by Daniel Petty

COMING UP: From rare books to online resources, archdiocesan library has long history of service to students

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National Library Week, observed this year from April 4 to April 10, is the perfect occasion to highlight the essential role of libraries and library staff in strengthening our communities – and our very own Cardinal Stafford Library at the Archdiocese of Denver is no exception.  

Since 1932, the library has served as a religious, intellectual, and cultural resource for seminarians and students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As the library of the seminary, we are always responsible for the four dimensions of the priestly formation of our seminarians. The library is charged with being responsible to all the divisions of the Seminary: the Lay Division (Catholic Biblical School and Catholic Catechetical School), the Permanent Deacon Formation Division, and the Priestly Formation Division, said Stephen Sweeney, Library Director. 

In addition to being one of the main resources to the seminary, the Cardinal Stafford Library serves the needs of other educational programs in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the St. Francis School for Deacons, the Biblical School, the Catechetical School and the Augustine Institute. While the library is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously open to anyone, giving people access to more than 150,000 books, audios, and videos. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library was named after Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican and former Archbishop of Denver from 1986 to 1996. He was a dedicated advocate of the library and of Catholic education.

In 1932, the library was established by two seminarians, Maurice Helmann and Barry Wogan. While they were not the first seminarians to conceive the idea of establishing a library, they are considered the founders for undertaking its organization.  

Since its founding, the library has grown and compiled a fine collection of resources on Catholic theology, Church history, biblical studies, liturgy, canon law, religious art, philosophy, and literature. Special collections include over 500 rare books dating back to the early 16th century and many periodicals dating back to the 1800s. The oldest publication in the library is a book on excommunication published in 1510. The Cardinal Stafford Library is also home to various relics and holds bills personally written by some of those saints.  

Over the past few years, the library has undergone a process of beautification through various renovations that include improvements in lighting, flooring, and even furniture restoration. During these difficult times, libraries are doing their best to adapt to our changing world by expanding their digital resources to reach those who don’t have access to them from home. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library provides a community space; we subscribe to about 200 print journals and have access to literally thousands more through online resources available on campus computers, Sweeney added. “I have been the Library Director for almost 11 years. I absolutely love my work, especially participating in the intellectual formation of the faithful from all of the dioceses we serve”.  

For more information on the Cardinal Stafford Library, visit: sjvdenver.edu/library 

Featured photo by Andrew Wright