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St. Cajetan’s pastor was a father figure, will be missed

Theatine Father Tomás Fraile, pastor of St. Cajetan Parish in Denver and a father figure to the Hispanic Catholic community, died March 19, feast of St. Joseph. He was 76.

A native of Spain, Father Fraile served 41 years of his nearly 51-year priesthood at St. Cajetan’s. It was his only parish assignment in the Denver Archdiocese. He was surrounded at his death by other Theatine Fathers, and members of the Cajetan community.

His death is a huge loss not only for the parish he lovingly served, but for the wider Catholic community, said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in a note of condolence to the Theatine Fathers, the parish of St. Cajetan, and the Catholic Hispanic community.

“Together with all those who knew Father Tomás and his dedication to the service of souls here in the Archdiocese of Denver, I offer my prayers for the eternal repose of his soul,” the archbishop said. “Father Tomás tirelessly pursued the task of evangelization for over 41 years at the parish of St. Cajetan, and he will be remembered by his brother Theatines, the parish and by the Catholics of northern Colorado as a priest who demonstrated a great closeness to the people. He will be missed.”

Carlos Bello, General Consul of Mexico in Denver, sent an open letter to St. Cajetan Parish to express his condolences. He called Father Fraile a “pilar of the Catholic Hispanic Community in Denver, an example of commitment and conviction throughout his 40 years of service to the faithful, building a community of solidarity and generosity.”

Msgr. Bernie Schmitz, vicar for clergy, told the Denver Catholic Register the parish won’t be the same without Father Fraile.

“What impressed me always about Father Tomás was his gentleness,” he said. “He was a patriarch of the order (Theatines), but he was most especially ‘father’ to the people and to the priests and brothers.”

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Msgr. Schmitz also noted Father Fraile’s “deep love for Scripture,” and that “it was embedded in his life and exuded from him. It was just a part of him.”

Born in Oliva de Plasencia (Cáceres), Spain, on Oct. 16, 1937, Tomás Fraile was educated at the seminaries of the Theatine order (Congregation of Clerics Regular) in Bejar (Salamanca) and Palma de Mallorca.

He studied philosophy and language arts in Mallorca and earned a bachelor’s degree in dogmatic theology, sacred Scripture and Eastern languages at the Pontifical Gregorian University and at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, where he was ordained a priest on July 7, 1963.

He taught Scripture, theology and classical languages at several seminaries and schools in Mallorca. In 1973 he started ministering at St. Cajetan’s in the Denver Archdiocese.

He also served in various ministries in the Theatine order, including as vicar and provincial secretary for the order in the United States.

Father Fraile was at St. Cajetan’s when the church moved its location from what is now the Auraria campus of Metropolitan State University downtown, to Alameda Boulevard and Raleigh Street in west Denver. Along with his good friend, Theatine Father James Prohens, Father Fraile helped oversee the building of the new parish, including the church building. Fathers Prohens and Fraile were the only two pastors who served at the current St. Cajetan Church.

Father Fraile was named pastor of St. Cajetan’s following the death of Father Prohens in 2007.

For 25 years Father Fraile appeared on his own weekly radio program, “La Hora Guadalupana,” originally on Radio Paco, then on Radio Bueno, predecessor to today’s KBNO.

For the 50th anniversary of his priesthood ordination, he told the Denver Catholic Register he was happy with where the Lord had sent him to minister. He kept an image of his parish’s patron, St. Cajetan, in his office and said he kept the saint’s mantra close to his heart.

“If you do your best, the Lord will do the rest,” he said.

The viewing, vigil and funeral Mass for Father Fraile will be held at St. Cajetan Church, 299 S. Stuart St. in west Denver. Viewing starts at 10 a.m. Monday, March 24 and concludes 5 a.m. Wednesday, March 26. Vigil is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25.  Archbishop Aquila will celebrate the funeral Mass for Father Fraile at 10 a.m. March 26. Interment will take place at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 12801 W. 44th Ave. in Wheat Ridge.

Funeral Services

The viewing, vigil and funeral Mass for Theatine Father Tomás Fraile will be held at St. Cajetan Church, 299 S. Stuart St. in west Denver at the times and dates below.

Viewing: Starts 10 a.m. Monday, March 24 and concludes 5 a.m. Wednesday, March 26

Vigil: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25

Funeral Mass: 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 26

Interment: March 26 at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 12801 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge

Roxanne King
Roxanne King
Roxanne King is the former editor of the Denver Catholic Register and a freelance writer in the Denver area.

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