Linda Oppelt
/ Categories: Diocesan News, Vocations

Religious Men Jubilarians

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

50 YEARS Rev. Frank Grinko, OFM Cap.

Father Frank Grinko, born in Pittsburgh in 1953, joined the Capuchin Franciscans at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1973 and made his first religious profession on Aug. 20, 1974.

Ordained a priest in Victoria, Kansas, in 1981, he spent four years as an associate pastor in Shawnee, Kansas, and then seven as campus minister and faculty member of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in Hays, Kansas.

The next 11 years he was in parish ministry in Kansas, eight of them at Victoria, Pfeifer, and Walker, and three in Hays, Antonino, Schoenchen, and Catherine.

Father holds master’s degrees in Scripture and spirituality and taught in various marriage and ministry training programs for the Diocese of Salina, Kansas.

All but two of Father’s past 21 years have been spent in forming new members of the Capuchin order, 12 years as director of postulancy programs in St. Louis and Colorado Springs and seven years as director of the North American-Pacific Conference novitiate programs in Pittsburgh and Santa Ynez, Cal.

The two years just alluded to (2008-2010) were his first assignment in the Colorado Springs diocese as director of the Catholic Center at Citadel Mall and guardian of Our Lady of Angels Friary in Black Forest.

Since 2017, Father has been guardian and postulancy director at Blessed Solanus Casey Friary in Colorado Springs. This summer he will return to Black Forest as guardian and the Citadel Mall as Catholic Center director.

In his 50 years as a professed Capuchin, Father Frank has been local religious superior for a total of 28 years and a member of the provincial council for 15. He has also served since 2017 as spiritual facilitator for the priests of the Pueblo diocese.

50 YEARS Rev.  Thomas Melancon, SJ

Father Thomas Melancon was born in St. Louis in 1942. He attended the St. Louis College of Pharmacy for a year before discerning a call to the Society of Jesus, entering St. Stanislaus Seminary in 1961. Father Melancon completed his studies during formation at St. Louis University and later also earned a master’s of social work from SLU.

For almost two decades, Father Melancon taught French, Latin and religion at both Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri, and his alma mater, St. Louis University High School.

He also directed the province’s pre-novice program from 1975 to 1980.

After moving to pastoral ministry in 1988, he served at St. Joseph Church in Pueblo, Holy Family Parish in Security, and Corpus Christi Parish in Colorado Springs.

In addition to his parish work in Colorado, Father Melancon served at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. He also has ministered to Jesuit communities in Boston and St. Louis. He served as director of the Jesuits’ senior care facility in St. Louis from 2007 to 2014, and continued as a pastoral minister to the Jesuit Hall Community through their move to St. Ignatius Hall in 2023. 

He now resides at St. Ignatius Hall in Florissant, Missouri, where he ministers to senior Jesuits and prays for the Society and the Church.  He celebrated 60 years as a Jesuit in 2021 and this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

50 YEARS Rev.  William Oulvey, SJ

Father Bill Oulvey was born in Fairview Heights, Illinois. He was finishing a chemistry degree at Rockhurst University when one of his Jesuit professors suggested a Jesuit vocation to him during his senior year. He entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974. In addition to his chemistry degrees, Father Oulvey earned a Master of Divinity, a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and a master’s in sacred theology, all from Regis College in Toronto, Ontario.

After teaching chemistry for three years at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, his first assignment following his ordination in 1985 was at St. John’s College in Belize. In 1992, he returned to the United States, serving in a pastoral assignment at St. Peter’s Parish in New Jersey and then spending a sabbatical year as a student at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. 

He next served as the vocation director for the former Missouri Province until July 2001. 

Father Oulvey’s ministry again took him abroad. First to Belize as the superior of the Jesuit Community until 2006, and then as the regional secretary to the USA Assistant in the Jesuit Curia in Rome. 

In 2010, he returned to Rockhurst University to serve as the rector of the Jesuit Community and in the Mission and Ministry Office. Following that assignment, he moved in 2016 to Colorado, serving as the superior of the St. Ignatius Loyola Parish Jesuit Community and rector of the Regis University Jesuit Community until 2022. After spending a year in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, he returned to Colorado to his current position at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat. 

He currently serves as retreat director at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House and interim vice-superior for the Jesuit community there. 

30 YEARS Rev. Jeffrey Cooper, CSC

Father Jeffrey Cooper was born in 1964, one of seven children born to Gary and Shirley Cooper. He grew up in Wapakoneta and Botkins, Ohio, and discerned a vocation to the priesthood after high school. 

He attended the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s college seminary for a year and then began to seek out religious communities, which resulted in a decision to enter the Congregation of Holy Cross. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1989 and then a master of divinity degree from Notre Dame in 1993, the same year he was ordained a transitional deacon. He was ordained a Holy Cross priest on April 9, 1994. 

After ordination, Father Cooper served for a year at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Burbank, California. He then earned a master’s degree in composition and rhetoric from Miami University in Ohio and taught at the University of Portland for two years. He was then named assistant novice director at the Holy Cross Novitiate in Cascade for six years. 

Father Cooper then earned a doctorate in Christian spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He served as postulant director at Moreau Seminary at the University of Notre Dame before being named novice director at the Holy Cross Novitiate in 2022.

 “I am grateful to God, to my parents and family, to Holy Cross and to all the people I’ve been blessed to minister with, and to, along the way,” Father Cooper said.

30 YEARS Rev. Abraham Kannampalackal, CMI

Father Abraham Kannampalackal is a native of Kerala, India, who grew up in the Syro-Malabar Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, and attended Catholic elementary and high schools. A memorable moment in his childhood occured when Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited his school to receive donations the students had collected to support the work of the Missionaries of Charity. The event first inspired him to become a Jesuit missionary, but he instead joined the Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, which was founded in the 19th century in Kerala as the first indigenous religious congregation in the Catholic Church of India. The order now has roughly 3,000 priests serving around the world in various ministries. 

He was ordained to the priesthood on Jan. 2, 1994, and spent several years working for a local diocese. In 1999, he was sent to Iona University in New Rochelle, New York, to study hospital administration. He returned to India in 2004 and served there until 2019, when he moved to Austin, Texas, and began a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Ascension Seton Hospital. Upon completing the residency program, Father Abraham obtained board certification from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and was named a chaplain for Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs. 

“I really enjoy meeting people, especially people who are away from the Church,” Father Abraham said. “They often have a lot of guilt, shame, maybe some bad experiences, and they don’t want to come back to Church. So I focus on being caring and compassionate and showing them that God does not think like we do; he does not hold a grudge. I show them how God is good, and if I am able to bring them back and help them to be a child of God again, that is a good day for me.” Accompanying people in difficult moments is also a big part of his ministry as a hospital chaplain, Father Abraham said. “There is trauma and death, but in spite of all these traumas and darkness, there is a light flickering; there’s just joy in bringing Jesus to people in their darkest hours and most vulnerable times. Just listening to them and being empathetic, understanding and appreciating their situation — that makes a big difference in life.”

Father Abraham was also instrumental in inviting religious sisters from India to work at the Catholic hospitals in Colorado Springs, including the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel and the Medical Sisters of St. Joseph. 

25 YEARS Rev. Amlesom Gaim Gawed, OFM Cap. 

Father Amlesom Gaim Gawed is a native of the Diocese of Keren in Eritrea. He has had a lifelong association with the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, also known as the Capuchin Franciscans. As a boy, he attended St. Francis Minor Seminary for 12 years before entering the Capuchin Province of St. Francis in Eritrea in 1992. He earned degrees in philosophy and theology through the Pontifical Urbaniana University and was ordained a priest on July 11, 1999. 

After ordination, Father Amlesom served in several African countries, including Eritrea, Cameroon and Benin. He worked mostly in the area of vocations development, forming postulants and novices for in his order. In 2007, he earned a certificate in Franciscan studies at the Franciscan Study Center in Great Britain. He arrived in Denver as a guest of the Capuchin Province of St. Conrad in 2017. 

Since coming to Colorado, Father Gawed has served on the provincial formation team and as a confessor at The Catholic Center at the Citadel Mall. He currently resides at Solanus Casey Friary in Colorado Springs. In addition to his native language, Father Amlesom is fluent in several languages, including English, French and Italian. 

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