Julia Greeley is making new friends
By Jean Torkelson
Photo Jean Torkelson/DCR
A quiet, hardworking Denver housekeeper who lived 100 years ago keeps creating buzz today.
A new biography of Julia Greeley, a former slave and possible candidate for sainthood, continues to sell steadily since its April launch, according to its author, Father Blaine Burkey, O.F.M. Cap.
Such interest improves the likelihood that a formal petition will someday be presented to Rome to consider Greeley’s cause for canonization, said Father Burkey, who held a book signing Sept. 18 at the Cardinal Stafford Library on the campus of the John Paul II Center in south Denver.
“We don’t want an official petition to be made until there is a chance for her fame to spread, and that was my intention in writing the book,” Father Burkey said.
“In Secret Service of the Sacred Heart: The Life and Virtues of Julia Greeley,” is available at Amazon.com, Catholic bookstores and Barnes & Noble.
At the book signing, Father Burkey was joined by Mary Leisring, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Black Catholic Ministry. Leisring also heads the Julia Greeley Guild, which published Father Burkey’s book and is dedicated to spreading the word about Greeley, whose reputation for holiness spread through north Denver even before her death in 1918.
Two former Denver archbishops, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, have urged people to take a deeper look into Greeley’s virtues. Additionally, a new nonprofit, Julia Greeley Home Inc., is currently searching for a building in Denver to house homeless single women. Plus, a new Christian school, Julia Greeley Academy, has opened in north Denver.
Title: “In Secret Service of the Sacred Heart”
Publisher: Julia Greeley Guild, 2760 Larimer St., Denver, CO 80205
Author: Father Blaine Burkey, O.F.M. Cap.
Contact: to buy book or schedule book signings: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 303-558-6685
An intriguing Denver figure
A parishioner at Sacred Heart Church in Denver, Greeley worked as a menial housekeeper yet was also caught up in the events of the day. She became entangled in the sensational divorce trial of territorial governor William Gilpin, who tried to besmirch her virtuous reputation. Father Burkey, author of several historical books on saints and early American western characters, spent a year researching his book, which includes excerpts from the Gilpin divorce trial and many photos and contemporary accounts.
The blunt-spoken Father Burkey has two main disappointments since publishing the book: The first is that he has many more questions to ask about Julia Greeley’s goodness, “but all the people I’d like to ask are dead now.”
His second disappointment is an apparent lack of interest from local media outlets about this intriguing figure in Denver history. He said book reviewers consider the April publication means “the book is old news by now,” to which he replies, “How can it be old news if nobody has heard about it yet?”
However, he is confident Greeley’s cause will prevail, if it is meant to be.
“God provides, if he wants that to happen,” the priest-author said.
Jean Torkelson: 303-715-3122; www.twitter.com/DCRegister