Western Slope priest dies at 85

Msgr. Thomas Dentici, who worked to connect the Western Slope with Denver and launched its first Catholic Charities’ office, died July 17. He was 85.

Born to Salvatore and Josephine Dentici on Aug. 8, 1928 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Thomas Francis Dentici attended Niagara University and Seminary and Our Lady of Angels in New York. He studied at Columbia and Fordham universities in New York, Saint John’s in Minnesota and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on May 30, 1953 in Trenton, N.J. and became incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver in 1983.

The first 25 years of his ministry in the Diocese of Trenton “were good years” he wrote August 2001 in the Denver Catholic Register. He served as assistant pastor at St. Cecelia and St. Thomas the Apostle parishes and worked in campus ministry at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

He also spent time teaching medical ethics at a hospital and was latMsgr. Thomas Denticier appointed as the diocese’s Office of Family Life director. While working in the Trenton diocese’s chancery, he became the bishop’s representative for the New Jersey Catholic Conference. He was also the founding pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Freehold, N.J.

In 1983, Msgr. Dentici came to serve in Colorado.

His ministry was spent on the Western Slope: in Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Vail. He served as pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Aspen, Holy Name Parish in Steamboat Springs, St. Patrick Parish in Minturn along with the nearby mission churches.

During this time, he was appointed as dean of the Breckenridge Deanery and Western Slope Deanery, as well as a member of the College of Consultors.

In 1990, Msgr. Dentici was appointed to a new position, Western Slope vicar forane, in which he said he hoped to become the “visible sign of the connection between the Western Slope and the rest of the archdiocese.”

He spent his time addressing economic and social justice issues, including closing the gap between the rich and the poor in the mountain towns. Msgr. Dentici also developed low-income housing projects and started the first Catholic Charities’ offices on the Western Slope.

After 45 years of priestly ministry, he retired. Msgr. Dentici lived with the Trappist monks of St. Benedict’s Monastery at Snowmass, which he called “one of the most beautiful places in our country.”

He continued to celebrate Mass and held retreats at the former Camp St. Malo in Allenspark. He called Colorado home, and wrote that administering the sacraments to so many families “has been a pure gift of God and his Church.”

A rosary will be said for Msgr. Dentici 6:30 p.m. July 25 at Holy Name Parish, 524 Oak St., in Steamboat Springs. A dinner will follow. A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. July 26 at Our Lady of Peace Parish, 89 Smith Ranch Road, in Silverthorne. Internment will be at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass.


COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash