Monsignor Howard L. Delaney, 102, passed away April 11, 2014. He was born one of three children to Michael and Mildred Delaney on Dec. 11, 1911, in David City, NE. He touched thousands of lives in his long lifetime — blessing newborns and newlyweds, whispering prayers over the sick and the dead, and teaching parishioners by his own humble example to take care of themselves and others. It boggles the mind to ponder how many lives might be different, including his own, if Monsignor Howard Delaney hadn’t taken an unplanned detour from engineering school to the seminary 73 years ago. No doubt he would have excelled in aeronautics or electronics, and perhaps landed in the history books or gained fame as a writer or teacher of mathematics and the sciences he loves. But he made his mark instead in matters of the heart and soul, in a field that offers few concrete answers but many, many mysteries to explore. From riding a pony at age 8 to his one-room school
house in David City, to flying an airplane around the country, as well as the diocese, at times with Bishop Buswell in tow, Monsignor Howard Delaney was the unrivaled Renaissance priest. As a young man, Delaney went to the School of Mines in Golden to study engineering, but the Depression forced him to quit school in 1933. Nonetheless, he had a degree in mining from Colorado School of Mines, and a brief career in engineering before he heard the call to the priesthood. From 1934 to 1940, Monsignor Delaney studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, completing his philosophical and theological studies. He was ordained through the Denver Diocese on May 18, 1940, which was two years prior to the Pueblo Diocese being established. Starting June 15, 1940, he served in Walsenburg and in 1944, was appointed Pastor of St. Mary Church in Walsenburg, CO, and Dean of the Walsenburg Deanery. From building a pipe organ in Walsenburg from scratch “using parts mostly from Radio Shack,” to being in the forefront of the computer age, he never tired of a challenge. In fact, when Gardner, CO needed a church, he learned how to make adobe bricks so that he and his future parishioners could build Sacred Heart Church, which still stands today. There was no money to speak of, but he found a way. His accomplishments abound. He taught English to immigrants, he spoke two languages, Spanish and English, and taught Spanish at St. Mary’s High School in Walsenburg; he was musically gifted, playing the organ, the recorder and other Renaissance instruments. He was also actively involved with the Pueblo Symphony for many years. Monsignor was known as a Catholic historian of Southern Colorado. He wrote two books; one entitled All our Yesterdays is still in print and available locally. He also collaborated with Monsignor Patrick C. Stauter on The Willging Years. He founded St. Mary’s North Cemetery in Walsenburg. He traveled extensively, including a tour of South America on a freighter. Monsignor Delaney was invested as Domestic Prelate in 1958, appointed as a member on the Diocesan Building Committee in 1961, listed as administrator pro tem of Sacred Heart in Gardner in 1965. It came as a shock to his Huerfano County parishioners when Bishop Buswell transferred the beloved Monsignor to Christ the King Parish in Pueblo in 1967. That is where he retired, after serving them for 30 years. For both of his two appointments, it is highly unusual for any priest to spend so long at any one parish. Monsignor Delaney retired from the Pueblo Diocese on Dec. 31, 1976. While retired, he was appointed vice-chairperson of the committee for the 50th anniversary of the Pueblo Diocese. In 2005, he was appointed to serve as Sacramental Minister for the St. Peter Parishes in Rocky Ford and Ordway as well as Mary Queen of Heaven in Fowler. Monsignor Delaney served under all five of the Pueblo Diocese bishops. Monsignor Delaney lived a life of simplicity and graciousness, humility and honesty. Through hard times, the Depression, lack of funds, the wars, and good times, he was a priest of the people, “a good priest,” a good man. He gave his all to the Church through his deep love of God. He enjoyed participating in the weekly Bible study groups and the coffee group. He would state, “They were there to solve the world’s problems.” Yet, this is only a small part of what Monsignor Howard Delaney was all about. What a great sense of humor he had. What a man of integrity, honoring each and every person with the love of God. He was humble and unassuming. Paying him a compliment got you a laugh and a refutation. Asked toward the end for advice for how to live a good life, he gave another laugh and a quick change of subject. Humility. Monsignor was dearly loved by all. To know him was to have known a holy man. In recognition of Monsignor Delaney’s extraordinary accomplishments and impact on the Huerfano County community, the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation honored him in 2012 as a Spanish Peaks Legend. He attended, still spry at the age of 100, and delighted the several hundred citizens in attendance with his acceptance speech laced with humor, and delivered in his inimitable and self-effacing manner. Fittingly, Monsignor Delaney has been interred at St. Mary’s North Cemetery near Walsenburg, his spiritual hometown, the community he loved, and which, in turn, will always love him. Story compiled with help from the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation and the Archdiocese of Pueblo.