The priest I know

No one is perfect. No one has every gift. Nonetheless, some offer what they do have for everyone else in the name of Jesus Christ. These men are our priests. They humbly serve the people of God, offering the sacraments and acting as a constant loving presence in each of our lives. We asked some of the faithful of Denver to share how priests have positively impacted their lives, or how they’ve witnessed them serving faithfully. This is what they said.

In medical school, I was struggling with how I could authentically live my Catholic faith as a doctor.  I met Father Jeffrey and shared some of the challenges. He offered to be my spiritual director and over the next several years provided supportive guidance, prayers, and book recommendations to deepen my faith and strengthen my formation.   At different stages in my medical training and now professional work, he has been available and present to help steer me towards the path of holiness. Around that same time when I met Father Jeffrey, my younger brother told my family that he felt called to be a priest.  Father Jeffrey gave me guidance on how best to support my brother and his vocation.  Eight years later, Father traveled across the country and joined my family in joy in concelebrating my brother’s ordination Mass!
– Natalie

Two years ago, I unexpectedly lost a job that I loved and experienced a career path that I had been on for 15 years coming to an end. Father Michael reached out to me during this time, and provide encouragement, guidance and just someone to talk to you. As I navigated making a huge life change, Father Michael was there for me, and he is a big reason I am working for the Catholic Church today.
– Mark

I was fortunate to enjoy the friendship of a Catholic priest for many years. We met while I was an altar boy and after a while, he became a close friend to all of us in our rather large Irish household. As is the life of a diocesan priest, he moved from parish to parish and even though he was only our local priest for a short time, he made it a point to remain close to our family, performing our marriages, baptizing our children and burying our father. During troubling times, he was always available, regardless of time and distance. I sought his guidance many times over the years, not only as a religious advisor, but most importantly as my good friend. We lost him to cancer in 2006. I miss his wise counsel to this day. – Mike

Growing up I remember my parish priest was passionate about sharing the faith with the younger generations. It always stood out to me that he regularly attended the local high school athletic events. I was a cross country runner in high school and fair to say we didn’t always have the support that other sports teams sometimes have at their competitions. Often times, our cross-country meets were in far and in other cities. But, I remember I regularly saw my parish priest at the cross country meets, cheering us on to the finish line. While I don’t recall many of the runners going to my parish, I look back and see his attendance showed the love a priest has for his parishioners and community. Truly, he was a shepherd willing to devote his time and energy to lead and support his flock. – Brandon

There’s a priest I’ve been friends with for almost 20 years, since ninth grade. We attended college together for two years, when he would invite me to attend daily Mass with him. During his seven years of formation at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, he stayed in contact with me as best as he could. He always showed love for me, my family, and our friends in small but profound ways. He assisted as a deacon at my grandfather’s funeral Mass; he concelebrated at my grandmother’s funeral Mass; he has patiently and lovingly heard my confession countless times. He’s the rare type of dear friend who has become as close as family. He’s heard and seen the dark corners of my heart, joyfully bringing me the grace of the Sacraments and loving me as Jesus does. He answered God’s call to be His priest, and because of that yes, my dear friend can love us all so much more deeply.
– Adrienne

I had a difficult adolescence, and depression was a big part of it.  When I transferred from my local public school to a Jesuit college prep school, I had to say goodbye to all my childhood friends.  I was incredibly lonely, desperate to drop out, and suicidal thoughts began creeping into my mind.  A priest who taught at the school recognized the path I was on and made a point to be extra kind, going out of his way to lend a listening ear before classes.  He was incredibly smart, with multiple masters’ degrees including one in clinical psychology.  Father Rice pulled me out of the dark hole I was in and helped make my high school memories some of the best.  His dedication to his students enabled him to earn the informal title of “oldest teaching Jesuit in North America”, before retiring in his 80s.
– Nathan

Recently, during a time of overwhelming personal grief, I landed – quite involuntarily – in a priest-led retreat. I felt I was not in the best emotional place for this event. But, as often happens when we are at our most resistant, it was actually a moment of pure grace in my life. The priest led our group on a guided prayer experience. In those few moments, my grief and anger dropped away as I followed his voice leading me along … up the side of a mountain in the footsteps of Christ. That prayer is with me every day now. He gifted us with this simple practice, but it was powerful enough to change my perspective.   My life has been blessed by the presence of amazing priests, from family members who became priests to priests who were like family. For every spiritual milestone, happy occasion, crushing blow, confusing situation or time of crisis, a priest has been there. They share their knowledge, guidance and reassurance, forgiveness and encouragement, friendship and leadership without discrimination, They give their lives in service. Even when I was the furthest from my spiritual center, I never doubted that the priest’s door would be open when I found my way back. – Cindy

I am a nurse in the Neonatal ICU and take care of extremely premature and sick babies. I was caring for a tiny baby weighing just over a pound and he was very ill. His family requested a Catholic baptism for their son. We didn’t have much time and we needed a priest right away. Father Mauricio came to our aide very quickly. He dropped everything he was doing to rush to the hospital to baptize this sweet baby boy. It was a beautiful baptism. He was afraid to touch the baby’s forehead, so I placed a cross out of Holy Water on his head for him. The prayers were beautiful and the holiness and pure love that Father Mauricio demonstrated that day will be a memory I always cherish. That sweet baby boy grew stronger and healthier over time and is now living at home with his beautiful family. I am proud to be Catholic and to be a part of a Church with such loving priests to be our shepherds and our fathers; who will do anything for us when there is dire need. – Katherine

Father Mason always gave us solid Catholic teaching. Whenever questions came up in our Bible study, he was only too happy to answer them.  He generously taught our class several times, instructing us on angels/demons, the four last things, evangelization, prayer, the Mass, etc.  He reminded us that the role of the priest is to offer sacrifice, recognizing the sacrifice is Jesus Christ, so that we would show reverence to the Eucharist. Father Mason also celebrated the Latin Mass for us each first Saturday, which was beautiful.  He made himself available to say Mass across the street from Planned Parenthood, never complaining when the weather was less than cooperative. Father Mason is an awesome priest who is joyful in his priesthood and serious about living out his vocation. We truly love him! – Karen

I had drifted away from Catholicism in college, being more interested in girls and partying. However, something urged me to stop as I drove by St. Tom’s on Holy Week of 2010. I saw that there was a line for confession and I decided I should go. I hadn’t been to confession in nearly 10 years. As I walked into the small room and sat face-to-face with Father Peter, the look on his face wasn’t condemning, but instead there was a gentle smile full of compassion. I let go of all of the guilt and shame I was holding onto at that moment as I shared with him the sins that I held onto for years. I thought I would experience harsh judgement when I entered that room, but instead Father Peter patiently walked with me through the experience, helping me to understand the depth of God’s mercy. That experience set the stage for a much greater conversion of my heart that would continue through the next several years. – Adam

I’ve known and loved so many priests in my 32 years of being Catholic. A few years ago, I was preparing for surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed. In the whirlwind of preparing for surgery and making sure things at home and work were settled, I became very anxious 2 days before the surgery when I realized I needed to go to confession and wanted to receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the sick prior to my surgery. I was relieved to hear that my parish priest was available and would wait until I could arrive after a long day of work to meet with him. It was a beautiful, unrushed confession. God was present in persona of the priest. When Father Joe gave me the Anointing of the sick, he stood over me, hands on my head and I could feel the presence of God fill my heart. Two days later, as I was transported into the operating room, I was not afraid. I knew through the sacraments, provided by the priest, that I was not alone.  God was with me and with the surgical team. I’ve never felt this strong of a presence of God’s spirit. It was an amazing experience. If it weren’t for my priest, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the sacraments, an external sign of God’s presence and love for me.  As an end note, the surgery went very well and five years later I am a cancer survivor…. cancer free for five years. I will be forever thankful for God’s gift of the priesthood to his people and for the holy and courageous men who have listened to God’s call to Shepherd us and bring us closer to Him.
– Barb

I am a cradle catholic and have had the fortune of knowing many priests over my 60 years.  Anytime I’ve needed to receive the sacraments or guidance in my faith, they have always been readily available to help me.  As a young boy through my teenage years I was an alter server for many different priests and was blessed to learn from each one of them.  As an adult and as my faith has deepened, I see more clearly the beauty in all that they do. – Tony

The title “Father” is exemplified in priests like Father John. When I met him at my university, I was disillusioned, hurting, and cynical about God. Over two years of spiritual direction, communal meals, prayer meetings, many tears and many laughs, he single-handedly revitalized my faith. Father John is not just an admirable role model for his zeal and knowledge, but a trustworthy spiritual mentor for his care for me. He both consoled me and pushed me, helped me trust the Church, and taught me to love God and myself. He is a true pastor, a shepherd of souls, and I am grateful to call him “Father.” – Daniel

Father Marcel was an associate at my parish. He drove a simple car, lived a simple life. I kind of felt sorry for him sometimes. He didn’t have any of the things I thought were important at that point in my life. Then he was diagnosed with a fast-growing stomach cancer. Never showed the slightest fear. Told me he would haunt me. The night I got the call that he was dying, I raced to the rectory. I wasn’t alone. The courtyard outside his bedroom was packed solid. His spiritual children had come to say goodbye. We sang his favorite song, “The Impossible Dream.” He opened his eyes and, in a weak voice, said “Well, I can tell I’m not in Heaven yet.” He rallied after he was anointed, and we all filed in to visit him. Far from being afraid or morose, he was downright joyful. After my turn, I lurked in a corner of his simple bedroom, and watched. He teased one about his haircut. He laughed and joked. At one point he looked up and said, “I had no idea dying could be so pleasant.” At that point, I would have traded everything I had to be in that man’s place. To be minutes away from standing before God, and saying “You see all those people down there? I brought them closer to You.” Father Marcel taught me a lot by the way he lived. And he taught me a whole lot more by the way he died.
– Mary Beth

My Uncle Joe was the youngest of eleven kids. When he went to seminary, everything was in Latin and he couldn’t get the Latin part. So, he was ordained a deacon, but was not ordained a priest because he wasn’t able to Pass Latin. He never got married. He just worked and he took care of both of my great grandparents. And when they passed away, he decided to go back to seminary and was ordained when he was 65. He’s been a priest for 15 years now and he’s so happy and so alive. He’s in this little small parish with a school in Ohio. He doesn’t take a salary so that he can he can pay scholarships for kids at the school who are poor. And every morning, he does everything for this church. He cuts the grass at the church. He gets up in the morning and walks around the block praying the rosary. We used to write letters and he would write to me things like, “Every morning I get up and I thank God that I’m a priest. And every night I go to bed and I thank God that I’m a priest.” He’s just the most faithful and joyful… he’s so humble and simple and loving. He just loves being a priest. – Angelina

After taking RCIA, I was still hesitant about entering the Church. It was around that time that a new priest was assigned to the parish my wife and I attended (she was Catholic; I was not). He agreed to meet one-on-one with me every few weeks to just talk to me about the Church and answer any questions I had. It was super informal and became a highlight of my week. Little did I know that the Lord would work wonders through this faithful man and eventually remove all inhibitions to my entering full communion with the Church. Now, almost five years after being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, I remain ever grateful for this priest and the many others whom I now call friends who challenge me to be a better man, husband and father. – Aaron

Do you have a story about a priest that you’d like to share? We want to hear them! Send them to us at info@archden.org.

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit: https://www.cocatholicconference.org/2021-legislative-bills-analysis/  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 


HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.