The following priests in the Archdiocese of Denver are marking 25 years in the priesthood.
Father Dennis Brown, O.M.V.
Currently: spiritual director for permanent diaconate program at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
Born: Flint, Mich.
Ordained: May 28, 1989
Among previous assignments: retreat director in Loretto, Austria, and Ann Arbor, Mich.; chaplain in Boston, Mass.
In the 1970s, Father Brown desired to convert to the faith and become a priest. Unaware of the bishop’s fame, Father Brown was sent to Archbishop Fulton Sheen—known for his radio broadcasts and TV show “Life is Worth Living”—to help him with the transition. He was so impressed by the bishop’s recommended book “The Catholic Catechism” by Father John Hardon, S.J., he enrolled to study at St. John’s University in New York and the Pontifical Institute for Advanced Studies in Rome.
While studying in New York City, Father Brown helped produce a syndicated radio program with six other students, most of whom also became priests.
“A theme which Bishop Sheen taught me is that as a Catholic we are called not merely to be priests but to be ‘priest-victims,’ that is, like Christ to be both the offerer (priest) and the sacrifice offered (victim),” Father Brown said.
He was ordained in 1989 by the late Pope John Paul II in Vatican City. Father Brown is a consecrated member of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
He said the more a priest lives the more he’s aware of the truth that “by no merit of my own” is he chosen for the priesthood and ministry of the Church.
Father Tadeusz Kopczynski
Currently: pastor at St. Paul Church in Idaho Springs
Born: Plock, Poland
Ordained: May 20, 1989
Among previous assignments: parochial vicar at Our Lady of Loreto Church in Foxfield, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Collins, St. Peter in Greeley, Blessed John XXIII in Fort Collins and St. Mary and Our Lady of Peace in Breckenridge; chaplain for the Families of Nazareth.
“I’m grateful to God for the grace to be a priest for 25 years,” Father Kopczynski shared in reflecting on his priesthood. “It’s a beautiful adventure.”
He was ordained in Warsaw, Poland in 1989. The Poland native has spent 11 years of his priesthood ministering to faithful in Archdiocese of Denver. He said it’s been an adjustment to rethink the Gospel message and preach in a way that reaches his parishioners. His homeland thought of topics such as freedom and individualism differently than Americans, he said.
Father Kopczynski said the priesthood is different than what he expected, especially during his first year.
“Every day my priesthood surprises me,” he said.
He’s learned over the years, and would recommend to seminarians, that “the smaller (more humble) you are, the better priest (you’ll be).”
Father John Schmidt, C.Ss.R.
Currently: province consultor at Redemptorists Denver Province
Born: Oakland, Calif.
Ordained: June 3, 1989
Among previous assignments: pastor at St. Alphonsus Parish and St. Michael Parish in Chicago; associate pastor at St. William Parish in Fort Lupton; rector at Redemptorists Theology Residence in Chicago
“I’ve been blessed in the past 25 years to minister in various parish communities as well as a formation director for our Redemptorist seminarians,” Father Schmidt reflected. “The past 25 years has been a time of growth for me, and I have been learning how to be a good priest by the example of my confreres and the witness of faithful parishioners.”
He was ordained in 1989 in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
He said a highlight of his priesthood is preaching God’s mercy and love and working with Redemptorist seminarians.
The priesthood has been a call to grow in his faith, he shared, “especially when I’m left with more questions than answers.”
“In my meditation, I wonder if I’m worthy of God’s call, but I rely on God’s grace and his invitation to be faithful,” Father Schmidt said. “The priesthood, as the Christian life, is about being faithful to God’s love and not being overly concerned about perfection. Perfection may come, but faithfulness is important.”