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December 9, 2009
Father ‘Rawley’ Myers, noted writer, dies at 85
COLORADO SPRINGS—Mass of Christian Burial was held for Father Joseph “Rawley” Myers on Dec. 1 at St. Mary Cathedral. Burial followed at Evergreen Cemetery. Father Myers died Nov. 25 at the age of 85.
Father Myers was a priest for 60 years, with more than half of that serving what would become the Diocese of Colorado Springs. In addition to being a priest, he was a writer of many books over five decades, an editor of the Lincoln Register for a decade, a columnist, a publisher and an educator.
“He was a great proclaimer of the goodness of God in lots of media. He did it in his availability to people, he did it in the written word, and he did it in his preaching all his life,” said Msgr. Don Dunn, who spent a great deal of time with Father Myers in recent years. “He never gave up that sense of being a proclaimer of God’s word. … He never gave up trying to live life as fully as he could.”
Father Myers, a native of Falls City, Neb., was ordained to the Diocese of Lincoln on June 8, 1949, after studying at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver for seven years. He came permanently to Colorado and was incardinated into the Denver Archdiocese in 1982.
Father Myers served as an educator to young people in his native Nebraska before teaching and acting as a chaplain at schools in Colorado.
He was an administrator, teacher and chaplain at St. Mary’s High School from 1972-82 and continued to serve the community as a chaplain for many years afterward. His influence resulted in vocations to the priesthood, including Father Tom McCormick, who is now a priest in the Denver Archdiocese.
“He is my raison d’etre for being a priest,” said Father McCormick, who came to know Father Myers during the former’s last two years of high school in York, Neb. “He was very present to whatever was going on in our lives as young people — whether it was high school activities, parties, dances. He opened the doors to the humanness and the attraction to that kind of life.”
Father McCormick, who led a rosary service at St. Mary Cathedral the evening of Nov. 30, expressed hope rather than sadness over Father Myers’ death.
“He knew how to live, and he knew how to die,” said Father McCormick. “He did it well.”
While he celebrated Masses at several parishes around the diocese, Father Myers’ sole administrative parish role in the Colorado Springs Diocese was associate pastor at St. Joseph-Colorado Springs from 1982 until his 1989 retirement.
Colorado Springs Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen “came to know Father Myers when I first arrived in Colorado Springs (in 1974).” He described Father Myers as a “simple man who never sought the limelight or took credit for anything.”
One of Father Myers’ passions was publishing Star Magazine. He told The Colorado Catholic Herald in a June 5 interview that the literary and devotional magazine that he published for more than 30 years was “the Blessed Mother’s publication. I just work for her, but I enjoy it.” He also contributed occasional columns to the Herald.
Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan recalled Father Myers’ prodigious written work as well as his impact on youth.
“Long before I met Father Myers, I came to know him through his many writings. His ministry of preaching the work of God did not decrease in the years of his retirement,” Bishop Sheridan said. “The young people of St. Mary’s High School were some very special recipients of his love and his eloquence, and I know that he will be missed especially by them.”
The Colorado Catholic Herald editor Bill Howard contributed to this story.