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 later 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.