Father Peter Urban Celebrates 60 Years as a Priest
By Kathy Santopietro Weddel
Peter Urban “happened” to the Roman Catholic priesthood May 31, 1958, and the Church hasn’t been the same since. That “happening” continues as he lives his sacred promises each day that welcomes his generous smile. In 60 years people of all ages and stations in life have benefited from his decision to work for justice and act for peace. Father Peter’s energy and enthusiasm carried him to Colorado communities in Sterling, Fort Lupton, Yuma, Fort Collins, Frederick, Erie, Meade, Roggen, Kennesburg, Wiggins and Denver. Tambien tenía tiempo en El Paso y Juarez. (“He also had time in El Paso and Juarez.”)
Father Peter currently lives at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Denver, where, in addition to his dedication to Hispanic ministry, he works to support the Miguel Pro Mission (MPM), founded in 2010. Along with Tonanzin Sisters and other dedicated individuals, MPM serves the people of Juarez by improving living conditions and offering educational support to keep kids in school.
In 1976, spurred by a friendship with Elizabeth Dyer, Peter became a Loretto Co-member. His commitment included an agreement “to share concern which all members have for each other, to nourish, extend and share Loretto’s vision, and to gift personal talents and ministry.” As an active member of Community Group 4, Peter often talks about how Loretto helps him embrace life-giving community.
After a conversation with Peter, one believes, as he has said, that “anything can happen,” “un milagro (“a miracle”) is right around the corner” and “everything is possible.” After a visit with Peter, one believes that combined efforts make a difference. After attending Mass with Peter, one believes liturgy can be innovative. After loving Peter, one believes in a gracious God.
Pablo Neruda wrote, “Quise ser como el pan. La lucha no me encontró ausente.” (“I wanted to be like the bread. The battle did not find me absent.”) Surely Neruda was speaking in first person for Peter, who in 60 years has never been absent from the struggle to call for equality, to hope for an end to poverty and to hold fast a compassionate faith.