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HERALD ARTICLES
Diocesan Clergy Jubilarians
Linda Oppelt
/ Categories: Diocesan News, Vocations

Diocesan Clergy Jubilarians

The Herald features its annual jubilarian special section honoring clergy and religious celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. Below are the diocesan clergy celebrating jubilees this year.  

65 YEARS Most Rev. Richard C. Hanifen, J.C.L.

Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen was born in 1931 in Denver, the third of four children of Edward and Dorothy Hanifen. His family attended St. Philomena Parish and developed a close relationship with the pastor, Msgr. William Higgins, who had a major influence on Bishop Hanifen’s priestly vocation. He attended Regis High School, where he learned the art of public speaking and was aided in his discernment of the priesthood through spiritual direction and retreats. He entered St. Thomas Seminary in 1953 and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Denver on June 5, 1959. 

After ordination, he served as Assistant Pastor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver until 1966. In the late 1960s, he earned a master’s degree in counseling from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. Upon returning to Denver, he worked closely with Archbishop James Casey, serving as vice chancellor, chancellor and secretary. 

On Sept. 20, 1974, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop, and soon after that Archbishop Casey appointed him Vicar for the Southern Region of the Archdiocese of Denver, which included Colorado Springs. He was  also named pastor of St. Mary’s Parish. It was at that point that Bishop Hanifen began to lay the groundwork for the creation of a new diocese.

“I was on the archbishop’s staff at the time and he had shared with all of us that he though the Archdiocese of Denver was way too big,” Bishop Hanifen recalled in a 2010 interview. “The archbishop said to me, ‘I want you to go to Colorado Springs and pull the parishes together.’ Between 1976 and 1984, most of my time was spent trying to get the parishes to work in a collaborative fashion with one another and to give the people in this area an identity.”

Finally, in late 1983, Pope John Paul II issued a decree establishing a new Diocese of Colorado Springs. 

“On Nov. 10, 1983, I received a phone call from the apostolic nuncio and he told me that the Holy Father would like me to be the first bishop of Colorado Springs. Of course, you don’t turn the Holy Father down, but I was happy to have the opportunity to be the founding bishop of the diocese,” Bishop Hanifen said. 

On Jan. 30, 1984, a Mass was held at Pikes Peak Center during which Bishop Hanifen was installed as the first Bishop of Colorado Springs. He inherited a rapidly growing area and the building boom that came with it — particularly north and northeast of the city. When the diocese was created by Pope John Paul II, it served 65,000 Catholics through 25 parishes and 10 missions. In his nearly two decades as bishop, the number of Catholics and parishes almost doubled.

In 2001, Bishop Hanifen requested permission from the pope to retire. Bishop Michael Sheridan was appointed co-adjutor of Colorado Springs on Dec. 4, 2001, and became ordinary of the diocese a year later. 

In his retirement, Bishop Hanifen remains active, giving spiritual direction and retreats. He is also an avid golfer. 

55 YEARS Rev. George Fagan, J.C.L.

Father George Fagan was born in Philadelphia and was the oldest of five children The family moved to Denver in 1955 when his father was asked to be the Head Librarian at the newly-established United States Air Force Academy, which was temporarily housed at Lowry Air Force Base until construction was completed in Colorado Springs. 

In 1958, the Fagans moved to Colorado Springs, and Father Fagan began his freshman year at St. Mary’s High School. Although both of his parents were devout Catholics who were very involved in the church, he said that St. Mary’s nourished his spiritual life and helped plant the seeds for his priestly vocation.

“There were a lot of priests at St. Mary’s who taught us religion; I admired them,” Father Fagan said. “We would come by bus from the academy, and we had daily Mass before school started.”

A retreat at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House during his junior year in high school helped him to discern his calling to the priesthood, and he enrolled at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver after graduation. After finishing his undergraduate studies at St. Thomas in 1966, he began studying theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome shortly after the Second Vatican Council had ended.

“When we arrived in Rome, the bleachers that the bishops used for their meetings in St. Peter’s Basilica were still set up,” Father Fagan said. “Up until my last year in the seminary, the canon was still in Latin. Three weeks before I was ordained — the beginning of Advent in 1969 — everything was changed to English. For my first Mass, there were no English missals available, so we had looseleaf sheets in binders. It really was a time of transition.”

Father Fagan was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver by Bishop James Hickey, then rector of the Pontifical North American College, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Dec. 19, 1969. Both of his parents were able to attend his ordination. 

He had several assignments in the Denver metro area before he was asked to serve as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Colorado Springs in 1982 — shortly before the formation of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Bishop Richard Hanifen then asked Father Fagan to go back to Rome to obtain his license in canon law. When Father Fagan returned to Colorado Springs in 1987, Bishop Hanifen appointed him to be the diocese’s first judicial vicar, a position that he held until 2002. As judicial vicar, one of Father Fagan’s main duties was to rule on petitions for decrees of nullity submitted to the diocesan tribunal. 

“During those years, I probably wrote about 1,000 decisions,” he said. “I really did see it as a ministry.” Father Fagan was also active in Worldwide Marriage Encounter and was on staff for many of their retreats.

Beginning in 1990, Father Fagan also served as chaplain at Mount St. Francis for 12 years. In 2002, he was asked to begin saying weekend Masses at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Limon.

Shortly afterwards he was appointed pastor of three parishes on the Eastern plains: Our Lady of Victory, St. Mary Parish in Flagler and St. Anthony of Padua in Hugo, where he remained until his retirement in 2020. Since then, Father Fagan has been living in Colorado Springs and assisting at Corpus Christi Parish. 

45 YEARS Rev. John Auer

Father John Auer, affectionately known as God’s fisherman because of his love of fly fishing, celebrated 45 years of ordination on May 19.
He was ordained in 1979 as a priest for the Archdiocese of Denver but was incardinated in Colorado Springs after the diocese was created in 1984. While there have been many challenges along the way, Father Auer said he is grateful for his 45 years of ministry.

“While it has not always been easy and there were trying times, I truly feel God’s presence and love in all activities,” he said.
Father Auer’s parents, Edward and Elizabeth, were devout Catholics who practiced what they preached, he said. 

“My folks wanted my brother and myself to attend Catholic elementary and high school. I was drawn to church ministry, so, I became an altar boy,” he said. 

Following high school, he first entered seminary with the Marist Fathers in San Francisco, studying at St. Peter Chanel Seminary in Marin County. He attended the junior college and graduated with the intention of going on to the novitiate and then Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

“There was a change of plans after being in the novitiate, and I decided to do more discernment. I returned home and went to Metro State College in Denver and studied for a degree in behavioral sciences,” he said.

During this time, Father Auer met a priest who was establishing the Newman club on campus, offering weekend retreats for college students. “He asked me to participate in giving retreats and I did this for several years. So, I was feeling the call to be a priest,” he said.

“What I was most intrigued with was the sense of community that had emerged as a result of the retreats. The church is community and I discovered that people want to be around those with a greater purpose in life.”

In 1975, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver. Four years later, he was ordained to the priesthood and began active ministry. 

As a transitional deacon in 1979, Father Auer served at. St. Jude Parish in Lakewood. After his priestly ordination, he served for a year at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver. Father Auer then served at Divine Redeemer Parish in Colorado Springs for three years before being assigned to St. Rose of Lima Parish in Buena Vista in 1984. 

“I was replacing a priest who had completed plans to build a church but was transferred to Colorado Springs before it was finished. I needed to raise additional funds and work with the architect and parish building committee to complete the project,” he said. The church was completed the following year and dedicated by Bishop Richard Hanifen on Dec. 8, 1985.

Father Auer remained at St. Rose until 1988 and was then assigned to Holy Trinity Parish in Colorado Springs, where he remained for seven years. 

During this time, he had a Jesuit spiritual director who helped him discern a call to further his education at Loyola University in Chicago. He studied for five summers, earning a Master of Pastoral Studies with an emphasis parish life and development.

Later, Bishop Hanifen asked Father Auer to assist with building improvements at St. Paul Parish. Following this assignment, he served at St. Mark Parish in Highlands Ranch for five years.
In 2013, Father Auer was named pastor of at St. Mary of the Rockies Parish in Bailey,  where he remained until 2016. He retired soon afterward at age 70.

Following retirement, he resided in Bailey before relocating to a community for adults age 55 and older. Currently, he lives in Aurora, where he assists a local parish with mass and confessions.

Reflecting on his career, Father Auer said his experiences are many and varied. He regards renovating the buildings at St. Paul Parish as a memorable accomplishment.
“We involved people who expressed their wants and needs for the church. We raised about $11 million and provided an excellent facility,” he said. 

Although he has been involved in several construction projects, Father Auer’s priestly ministry remains his main focus. He recalled an incident while on call at a local hospital. He was summoned to the hospital around 4 a.m. to administer the anointing of the sick to a man scheduled for surgery.

“When I met the man, who was with his wife, he asked why I was there before him. His wife said, ‘I think you need the priest, (to) go to confession and be anointed,’” he recalled.
During his free time, Father Auer enjoys cooking, fly fishing, ham radio operation, movies and reading. 

“I like retirement and find myself in an increase of prayer and reflection. My heart is filled with gratitude and a sense of being blessed,” he said. — William J. Dagendesh. 

30 YEARS Bishop James R. Golka

Bishop James Golka was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 3, 1994 by Bishop Lawrence McNamara. On the occasion of his 30th jubilee, several bishops from Nebraska and Colorado sent congratulatory messages:  

Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, Archdiocese of Denver: Congratulations on your 30th priestly anniversary! St. John Paul the Great said, “The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord!” (Rome, October 1979). Your faithful and joyful service to the Church has been a blessing to the Diocese of Grand Island as a priest and the Diocese of Colorado Springs as their shepherd. It is greatly appreciated by the many people who have encountered Christ more deeply through your ministry.

We are grateful for your collaboration in serving the Church, and we pray that your life will continue to be filled with the deep joy and the sanctifying grace of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Stephen Berg, Diocese of Pueblo: I extend my heartfelt congratulations as you celebrate this special milestone, the 30th anniversary of your ordination as a priest, and the third anniversary of your episcopal ordination.

Please know of the prayers and support of our Diocese of Pueblo as you continue your journey in wisdom and grace to lead your people forward on the road to holiness. May God abundantly bless you and your Diocese of Colorado Springs.

Bishop Emeritus William Dendinger, Diocese of Grand Island: Bishop Golka has been a “shining ray of grace and goodness.” He has been a source of grace and inspiration to me and thousands of people throughout the world. There are no boundaries to his influence and grace to all who see him. I will remember him and all who celebrate his 30th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.

Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt, Diocese of Grand Island: All of us here in the Diocese of Grand Island wish you a happy 30th anniversary of priestly ordination! Your vocation as priest, and now bishop these past three years, has been a source of great pride and joy for us all. Know that you are much beloved and never forgotten.

Personally, I miss working with you here. At the same time, I rejoice in the faith and leadership that is the legacy of your ministry in our diocese. Your approach to things, your keen insights and your gentle spirit have touched so many lives as we see Jesus in you.

May the Lord bless you for many years to come.  May the power of the Holy Spirit work through you for the good of the Church in Colorado Springs and through it all, may the Lord draw you only deeper into the mystery of his tender love and boundless mercy.

Congratulations on your 30th anniversary as priest and third anniversary as Bishop of Colorado Springs! 

Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen, Diocese of Colorado Springs: Every priest is chosen among God’s people to serve them and impart to them the endless gift of God’s love. Being in that service for 30 years is not just a generous gift from Bishop Golka to our people, it is a tremendous gift of God to Bishop Golka.
I’ve always been impressed with his love for people who are Spanish-speaking. He studied Spanish himself in order to be available to them in ways that are very special. That’s been so helpful for diocese since he has come to us.

His love for people and his presence among them is such a gift that it has become a source of consolation to our diocese. He is willing to go anywhere to be with the people. 
I’m also impressed with his desire to be close to his priests and deacons. The fact that he had every priest to dinner just to draw closer impressed me from the outset. 
Thirty years of priesthood is God’s great gift to the diocese and I will always be grateful for it.

30 YEARS Rev. Michael Goodyear

Father Michael Goodyear is a native of Columbus, Ohio, who discerned a call to the priesthood while a student at Columbus College of Art and Design. He initially studied at St. Meinrad Seminary, a Benedictine seminary in Indiana, with the intention of becoming a Benedictine monk. He later became a member of the Legionnaries of Christ and was ordained in Mexico City on Nov. 25, 1994. 

“Although I never became a monk, the desire for a more contemplative life has lingered,” Father Goodyear said. 
For the next two decades, Father Goodyear mainly worked in campus ministry until he made the decision to leave the Legionnaries in 2015. As he prayed about where God was leading him next, he developed a strong devotion to the Divine Mercy. He moved to the Diocese of Colorado Springs in 2015 and was named pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. He also helped to found the Divine Mercy of the Rockies apostolate. In 2018, he was named pastor of St. Patrick Parish. In 2020, he was named pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Falcon and St. Michael Parish in Calhan. 

“But the desire for a more contemplative life was ever present,” Father Goodyear said. “In recent years, I came to know and love visiting the Abbey of St. Walburga in northern Colorado. I felt right at home there and always felt a deep peace.” The desire caused him to expore the possibility of serving as a chaplain at a Benedictine monastery. In February, the Benedictines of Mary in Gower, Missouri, invited him to serve as chaplain at the order’s Monastery of St. Joseph in Ava, Missouri, effective July 1.

“I will be a monk at last,” Father Goodyear said.

30 YEARS Rev. Gus Stewart

Father Gus Stewart is a native of Colorado Springs who grew up attending Sacred Heart Parish. After graduating from Coronado High School, he attended St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where he met Holy Cross Father Leroy Clementich, who became his mentor and friend.

In 1984, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate left Sacred Heart Parish, and the Congregation of Holy Cross assumed leadership of the parish. Father “Clem,” as he is commonly called, was the first Holy Cross priest to serve as pastor at Sacred Heart, and so the connection was strengthened. 

Having discerned a call to the priesthood in his late teens, Father Stewart completed a Masters of Divinity degree at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He decided to come back to Colorado Springs to seek incardination as a diocesan priest. After being accepted by Bishop Richard Hanifen, he was ordained a deacon in June 1994 at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Buena Vista. His priestly ordination took place on Nov. 5, 1994. He especially recalls spending an hour praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament with Bishop Hanifen on the morning of his ordination. 

After serving as a sacramental minister at St. Joseph Parish in Fountain, Father Stewart was appointed parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock. He remained there until 1998, when he was chosen to become pastor of a new mission that was established to serve the growing Catholic community in Briargate. That mission eventually became St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish. Masses were held at Mountain Ridge Middle School while a capital campaign was underway to build a church. The campaign was successful, and in December 2004, Father Stewart led a eucharistic procession to the new church. 

In 2007, Father Stewart was appointed pastor of the Catholic Community of Leadville, where he oversaw the consolidation of St. Joseph and Annunciation Parishes into Holy Family Parish. In 2010, he was named pastor of Ave Maria Parish in Parker. The parish undertook a capital campaign to build a parish life center, which was dedicated in 2011. 
In 2019, he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Colorado Springs.  

Reflecting on his 30 years of priestly ministry, Father Stewart said that “Not a day goes by that I do not pray, honor Jesus in the Eucharist, pray with and for our bishop. . . . On any give day, it is a grace-filled honor to be a priest. On a good day it is wonderful and joyful. But it is in those days of difficulty and struggle — those days of desolation and darkness — that we as sinful men will need our priesthood the most.”

25 YEARS Rev. Brad Noonan

Father Brad Noonan is a Florida native who began ministering as a chaplain even before he was ordained a priest. As a novice in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the 1980s, he worked as a hospital chaplain and was certified in Clinical Pastoral Education while earning a master of divinity from Oblate College. He later came to the Diocese of Colorado Springs to pursue a vocation as a diocesan priest, serving at Holy Trinity Parish while he became familiar with the diocese. He also began serving as a chaplain for the Colorado Springs Fire Department during that time. He was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 18, 1999 by Bishop Richard Hanifen at Holy Apostles Parish. 

Father Noonan’s first assignment after ordination was as parochial vicar at Holy Apostles. He was then named pastor of St. Patrick Parish, where he oversaw a remodel of the church and parish offices. In 2008, he was named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock, where he oversaw the construction of a new church building. The new church was dedicated by Bishop Michael Sheridan on Oct. 4, 2011, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Father Noonan remained in Castle Rock until 2020, when he was named pastor of Our Lady of the Pines Parish in the Black Forest section of Colorado Springs. 

In the midst of his duties as a parish pastor, however, Father Noonan has continued his service as a fire and police chaplain. In addition to his service to the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Father Noonan has also served as chaplain for the fire departments in Castle Rock, Parker, Elizabeth and Black Forest. He  was instrumental in establishing the Blue Mass as an annual event in the diocese.

“It’s important for us to get together as a community to recognize our firefighters, police officers, emergency services workers and sheriff’s deputies,” he said. “At every Mass, I pray for them. In riding along (with firefighters and police officers), I get to recognize the care and compassion that they have. You also see the danger they’re in. That’s what we want to honor.”

In 2007, he received a medal for Distinguished Service from the Colorado Springs Fire Department. He was later named an honorary fire chief by the department, which also restored his 1967 Ford Mustang in appreciation for his service. 

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