We memorialized a spiritual giant yesterday, Steve Handen. A former priest. An advocate for life among God’s poor. With his wife and children, he offered hope to the marginalized for decades in Colorado Springs. Many service organizations in Colorado Springs bare the mark of his influence, his prophetic words, and his organizational skills.
Steve was the grandfather of the social gospel in Colorado Springs. He believed in God. He believed in people. His prophetic, yet humble voice, challenged church and city leaders. His manner exemplified his inner life. Visiting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, were not just passing remarks of Jesus Christ, but Steve understood that salvation depends on how we live these commands in our society.
I so admire Steve Handen and his faith life of honest service. After the Mass yesterday, a leader of a service organization came up to me, offered me a hug, and I wept in her arms. I told her I have felt so diminished by the pandemic in my role as pastor. I felt the grief of Steve’s passing, but also the passing of the social gospel in our Church. As I looked at the crowd in our pews, most of the people were older. I entrust the social gospel and the voice of people to God. God’s love will reveal how we care for one another. I must believe.
Tears open new doors. Our role is to continue to listen to the gospel and to learn from our prophets in our world. When grief breaks us open, new life will lead us. Goodness in God prevails. Steve’s legacy has just begun.
Steve Handen, rest in peace.