Father Joseph Meznar once wrote he wanted to be a priest so he could see Christ.
While attending Holy Thursday Mass at Holy Rosary Parish with his mother when 5 years old, the young Meznar asked her what the priests saw when they looked toward the altar.
His mother, Mary Rose, said, “Jesus.”
“At that point I was determined that one day I would be a priest and be able to see Jesus,” Father Meznar wrote in a letter to parishioners before his retirement in 2009.
Father Meznar spent his life ministering to faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver before his death June 5. He was 82.
A Denver-native, Joseph Albert Meznar was born July 11, 1932 to John Paul and Mary Rose Meznar. His Austrian family had a history of ties with Holy Rosary Parish. His mother received her first communion there and later married her husband at the church. Both Father Meznar and his brother, deceased Father Robert Meznar, were baptized at Holy Rosary.
Father Meznar attended Swansea public school and Annunciation school before earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree from St. Thomas Seminary, now St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. He was ordained May 31, 1958 and celebrated his first Mass at Holy Rosary.
He first ministered to the community at Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster as assistant pastor. He continued there for 10 years until becoming pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Holyoke in 1968. Father Meznar also worked as a chaplain at Mercy Medical Center in Denver before assigned to Notre Dame Parish in the 1970s. His ministry continued at Notre Dame Parish from 1977-1982. He was pastor at Holy Rosary for 27 years until 2009.
During this time, he was supportive to a few priests during their vocation discernment, including Father Dennis Schaffer, now retired, when they became friends at Notre Dame Parish.
“He taught me how to say the Liturgy of the Hours,” Father Schaffer said. “He was a caring individual, and a very encouraging person.”
He was a private person, but “always very present to me whenever I wanted to talk to him,” he added.
Father Meznar’s funeral Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, was held June 12 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. His interment followed at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.