Editor’s Note: Following is the next installment of the Herald’s monthly series profiling priests and deacons serving in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Featured this month is Father Francisco Quezada, pastor of St. Patrick Parish.
Father Francisco Quezada is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, and was the third oldest in a family of six children.
“My vocation was born from us attending Mass together early on Sunday mornings, all six of us,” Father Quezada said.
He attended a high school seminary in San Antonio run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was both a financial and personal sacrifice for his parents to have their son attend school away from home, he recalled.
“It was very, very difficult for my parents,” Father Quezada said. “I was the oldest of the boys. To break up the family at that young age was huge, but in their religious way of being, this was something they could not say no to. They respected the things of God and they wanted to submit and surrender.”
“I remember every fall, my father would get into line at the finance office and he would negotiate my tuition. ‘We can do it, don’t you worry,’ he told me.”
After high school, he studied at St. Edward’s University in Austin, a school run by the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was ordained Jan. 9, 1988 by Bishop Michael Pfeifer of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. Following ordination, Father Quezada taught at a high school seminary for several years.
In 2002, Father Quezada came to the Diocese of Colorado Springs to serve as pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Burlington and St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Stratton. Although moving from a big city like Houston to the eastern plains of Colorado was a big change, Father Quezada said he welcomed it.
“To me, the rolling wheat fields were very restful,” Father Quezada said. “The German and Czech parishioners are hard-working people who are zealous for the faith. It was easy to minister there.”
However, on Jan. 9, 2004 — the anniversary of Father Quezada’s ordination — vandals broke into St. Catherine Church, desecrating it and setting it on fire. Among the many items damaged in the fire was the chalice given to Father Quezada by his parents.
That same year, Father Quezada was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, where he became more aware of the needs of Hispanic Catholics in the diocese. In 2006, Bishop Michael Sheridan named him Director of the newly-created Office of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Colorado Springs. He continued in that role while serving as rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral. He oversaw the construction of a new rectory on the cathedral grounds in 2009.
In 2011, Father Quezada was elected president of the National Association of Hispanic Priests, an organization that serves the more than 5,000 Hispanic priests in the United States. Around that time, he also worked closely with the late Mary Guenzel to found the El Tesoro de Los Angeles Retreat Center in Woodland Park.
In 2013, Father Quezada was named pastor of St. Mark Parish in Highlands Ranch, where he again spearheaded the construction of a rectory on the parish grounds.
“That was my biggest accomplishment, building a house for priests — to get priests back to living with their church,” he said.
A high point in his priestly ministry took place in 2016, when Father Quezada was named a Missionary of Mercy in conjunction with the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. Father Quezada traveled to Rome and was able to have a personal conversation with the pope.
“On Ash Wednesday 2016, I came out of the breakfast room (at Casa Santa Martha), and Archbishop Georg Ganswein was there. We were talking about Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis emerged from the elevator behind me and started talking to the person at the counter. I asked Archbishop Ganswein if I could speak to him,” Father Quezada recalled.
“We spoke in Spanish for about seven minutes. He had addressed all the missionaries the night before, and he spoke to me about confessions and how important the sacrament of confession is to people. He told me to be a father to them — anything less, don’t go.”
“That was profound; that changed me,” Father Quezada said. “I’m a big fan of Pope Francis. He’s difficult to explain and difficult to defend at times, but he is bringing a sense of humility to the papacy.”
In 2017, Father Quezada left the diocese to serve in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He returned in 2019 and was appointed pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Falcon. He was recently appointed pastor of St. Patrick Parish.
(Those who feel that they might be called to a vocation as a priest or permanent deacon can contact Father Kyle Ingels at firstname.lastname@example.org or Deacon Chris Kennedy at email@example.com for more information.)