Well done, good and faithful servants: Honoring our priests for their years of service

Denver Catholic Staff
25 years

Father James Goggins
Ordained 6/4/1994

Father James Goggins felt drawn to religious life when he was just a boy.

“We had wonderful priests and sisters at our parish and school, and I admired them a great deal,” he said.

Father Goggins was ordained a priest on June 4, 1994. He has served at parishes all around the archdiocese and is currently pastor of St. Mary in Greeley.

Father Goggins said he has discovered “a great joy in doing my duty and doing it one day at a time, and trying to connect people to the Lord.”

He believes that for a priest, “the most important thing is to connect people with Jesus, no matter what’s going on in their lives — whether it’s joy or suffering — and especially in the Eucharist,” he said.

He encourages young priests to “focus on Jesus,” he said. “Let him be the whole focus of your priesthood — nothing and no one else.”

Father Jerry Rohr
Ordained 6/4/1994

Father Jerry Rohr’s call to the priesthood was “an evolving” experience.

“It wasn’t a St. Paul moment,” he said. “It was a slow growing toward this need to give back somehow to what I believed Christ had given me.”

Father Rohr was ordained a priest on June 4, 1994. He currently serves as pastor of Christ the King in Haxtun, St. Patrick in Holyoke and St. Peter the Apostle in Fleming.

Because he didn’t enter seminary until he was 29, Father Rohr understands it can be challenging for older men who feel drawn to the priesthood to answer that call.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Anytime is the right time.”

His advice for young priests is to “remember that you do not bring Christ to your parish,” he said. “Your job is to discover the Christ that already exists in your parish and in your parishioners.”

Father Stephen Siebert
Ordained 7/2/1994

Father Stephen Siebert admits he wandered in his early adolescence before “Our Lord found me, and I heard the good news,” he said.

To this day, he remembers the exact dates he converted to Christ and eventually felt called to the priesthood.

“Love, peace and joy filled my life, and suddenly, vice fled,” he said. “Within a short time, my prayer became, ‘Lord, I want to serve you for the rest of my life.’”

Father Siebert was ordained to the priesthood on July 2, 1994 in Tijuana, Mexico as a member of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. He served as a missionary in Mexico and Italy and helped in the missions Mother Teresa opened in Albania.

Father Siebert returned to diocesan parish life in the U.S. after 11 years with the mission and was received into the Archdiocese of Denver.

He currently serves as pastor of St. Mary in Breckenridge and Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne.

Father Gerardo Puga
Ordained 7/25/1994

Father Gerardo Puga began to feel the call to the priesthood during his high school years, but “I was a little afraid,” he said.

Father Puga thought he wanted to get married one day, but his love for the sacraments eventually led him to say “yes” to God’s call to religious life.

“I think God was patient with me and remained calling me,” he said.

Father Puga was ordained a priest on July 25, 1994. He currently serves as pastor of Holy Family in Meeker, St. Ignatius of Antioch in Rangely and St. Michael in Craig.

Father Puga wants young priests to know that “the call is not just once in your life.

“Put your vocation, your life in the mercy of God, permit the Holy Spirit to change you, to convert your heart and go ahead every day. Because the call is not in the past — it’s in the present.”

Father Daniel Leonard
Ordained 11/25/1994

Growing up in Ireland, Father Daniel Leonard took his faith seriously and attended daily Mass with his family. His mom gave him, the youngest child, the responsibility to pray the Prayer of St. Francis at the end of Mass.

It instilled in Father Leonard a “desire to help people — to bring hope and faith and life,” and sparked his interest in the priesthood.

Father Leonard was ordained a priest on Nov. 25, 1994. He has served as a parish priest and seminary professor and is currently the Rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.

Father Leonard imagines his ministry is similar to Jesus’ work of teaching his followers to spread the Gospel.

“I know that all of these future priests are going to touch the lives of literally thousands and thousands of people,” he said. “It gives a lot of hope.”

His advice to young priests is to “live a strong life of prayer.”

50 years

Monsignor Bob Amundsen
Ordained 12/19/1969

Monsignor Bob Amundsen was working on an assignment in fourth grade that required him to find a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up.

But when he couldn’t find a photo of his dream job — a medical professional — his mom offered him a Catholic magazine.

“I cut out a picture of a priest saying Mass with my essay, ‘When I grow up I want to be a priest,’” he said. “And here I am 65 years later.”

Monsignor Amundsen was ordained a priest on Dec. 19, 1969. He is currently pastor of Immaculate Conception in Lafayette and enjoys celebrating Mass and confession, as well as offering spiritual direction to young adults.

His advice to young priests is “be a man of prayer and live in imitation of Jesus. Love the people you serve. Listen to their faith stories because the lay people will really enrich your understanding of the connection of life and faith.”

60 years

Father Thomas McCormick
Ordained 5/19/1959

After 60 years of priesthood, Father Thomas McCormick refers to himself as “God’s spoiled kid.”

“I’ve been spoiled with the gift of the priesthood, the gift of faith, the gift of health,” Father McCormick said with a smile. “I haven’t had a bad assignment in 60 years.”

Indeed, Father McCormick has had a variety of assignments throughout his priesthood, including pastor, junior high principal and missionary. He was even involved with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, when he marched on Selma with Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout his many experiences as a priest, Father McCormick fondly looks back at his time spent doing mission work in Colombia and Mexico. These experiences characterized his 60 years of priesthood and shape his advice to young priests.

“If we truly understand the Gospel, [we realize] that we need the poor more than the poor need us.”

Monsignor Raymond Jones
Ordained 6/6/1959

Msgr. Jones couldn’t be reached for an interview by press time.

65 years

Father James Purfield
Ordained 5/29/1954

Father Purfield couldn’t be reached for an interview by press time.

COMING UP: “God, Sex and the Meaning of Life”: Come explore the beauty and power of the Theology of the Body

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The Archdiocese of Denver extends an invitation to explore the beauty and power of the Theology of the Body while bringing healing and sight to the blindness of our modern culture’s beliefs in sexuality at the Theology of the Body Conference, which will take place Saturday, March 14, at Light of the World Parish in Littleton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Early registration ends Jan. 31 and includes lunch and workshop materials for $40.

“God, Sex and the Meaning of life” is a full introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that will engage the audience with a complete understanding of God’s plan for humanity. The keynote speaker for this conference, Bill Donaghy, will be sharing his own experiences as husband, father, former high school teacher and child of God.

“If you have a pulse, if you’re human, if you’re alive, you should attend,” Donaghy told the Denver Catholic. “I’m giving an introduction. It’s the wide scope, 30,000-foot view of what the teaching [Theology of the Body] is. It’s literally for every man and woman, every vocation, single, married, celibate, divorced, wherever your state in life is, wherever you are right now, this is a day that zeroes in on human identity.”

Donaghy is the Senior Lecturer and Content Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute, and a well-known international speaker. He worked for nearly a decade teaching theology while giving talks, retreats, and conferences for the institute. Since 1999, he has worked in the fields of mission and evangelization throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

Donaghy will encourage attendees to see the redemption of sexuality as the key to happiness, uncovering the truth behind the lies of lust and pornography and how they can be overcome.

“It’s about getting grounded again in my own incarnation, my masculinity, my femininity. Our culture right now is sort of cerebral, it’s kind of living in the head or maybe just living in the feelings, the outliers,” he said. “[The] theology of our body says, ‘come home to your body, your body is not an alien, it’s not an enemy that you manipulate or change.’ Theology of the Body helps us come home to our own bodies. It’s a beautiful homecoming.”

The conference will also feature a Spanish track with Evan Lemoine, Founder of “Amar al Máximo.” Lemoine is a recognized international speaker on the Theology of the Body, sexuality, courtship, and marriage. He is a graduate from the Master’s Program on Marriage and Family in the John Paul II Institute in Mexico City, where he was later a post-grad professor. He is also a graduate from the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia, where he has specialized on the vision and teachings of John Paul II. He has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Louisiana State University with a Minor in Psychology, and a Masters in Humanities from the Anahuac University in Mexico City.

This one-day conference is intended for all people college-aged and above. A study guide is included and may be used afterward for follow-up adult faith formation Theology of the Body studies.

“Sexuality is literally the image of God, man and woman,” Donaghy concluded. “He created us. Be not afraid. Come to a day that helps you answer fundamental questions: Who am I? How do I live?”

Theology of the Body Conference

Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.
Light of the World Parish, Littleton
$40 Early bird thru Jan. 31
More information and registration: archden.org/TOB-CONFERENCE/