My first full time position in the Church was one year after my ordination to the diaconate. That position was with Saint Benedict's Parish in Florence, Colorado as the Director of Religious Education. It was a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to the Benedictine way of life. Although Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, Colorado is now closed, I am grateful for the many times I was able to visit the abbey while living in the area.
Fr. Michael Murray, OSB was pastor of St. Benedict's while I was there. I am grateful for what I learned from him in regard to stewardship. Fr. Michael always credited Abbot Warren Heidgen for instilling the value of stewardship into the Benedictine community. That spirit was then able to flow over into the parish communities in which the Benedictines served.
Abbot Warren was out of the area when I arrived at St. Benedict's and I never had the chance to meet him until many years later when I served in Cheyenne. He was retired by that time and simply filled in at the Cathedral of St. Mary during the summer. This enabled our priests at the cathedral to get some vacation time. It was a pleasure to get to know the man from whom I had learned much even though we had never met. His teaching on stewardship was handed down to me through Fr. Michael.
Abbot Warren died a little less than two weeks ago, but his teaching and his example lives on. May he rest in God's eternal peace.
I would also like to mention the sisters at the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, Colorado. What a beautiful group of people serving God in this community! I am forever blessed for all of the retreats I was able to attend at this magnificent campus, and also for the privilege of leading numerous retreats there as well.
To all of the parishioners at St. Benedict's Parish in Florence, Colorado--may this day be a tremendous blessing to each of you as well. My time at St. Benedict's is forever etched into my heart. Thank you for the many wonderful memories.