Father Joseph Myers

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Father Joseph Rawley Myers died peacefully of natural causes on November 25, 2009, surrounded by family members. He is preceded in death by his father and mother, Mervin and Luella Rawly Myers of Falls City, Nebraska, his brother Dr. James M. Myers of Colorado Springs, his niece Mary Myers, and his nephew Matthew Myers. He is survived by Tedde Myers and a large family of nieces and nephews. Born April 19, 1924, Rawley was a child of the Great Depression and every inch a small-town Midwesterner. Though he traveled widely as a priest and found great success as a Catholic writer, he based his life and his priesthood on the values of that upbringing. "I'm all for small towns," he said in an interview. His parents owned a drug store in which Rawley and his brother Jim worked long hours. Hard times created strong family ties, and laughter was a source of strength. "I think humor took people through the depression," he observed. Young Rawley was deeply impressed by his experiences at Falls City's Sacred Heart School, writing later about the examples set by his Ursuline nun teachers, especially Mother Bernadette, and by his parish priest. "I feel one reason that I am a priest today is that in my small town parish almost every time I went to the church for a visit, I saw my old Irish pastor kneeling there, ramrod straight, before the tabernacle," he wrote. His 40-plus years as a priest began at Denver's St. Thomas Seminary in 1942, where he became editor of the seminary magazine. In 1949 he was ordained, dedicating his priesthood to the Blessed Mother and beginning a life of service; as he put it, "the day after ordination, eighty-year-old women are coming to you in the parish asking you about very personal problems." As assistant pastor at St. Joseph's parish in York, Nebraska, he also began other activites he'd pursue throughout his life: teaching and cheering at football games. In 1952 his bishop assigned him to The Denver Catholic Register, one of the largest Catholic newspapers in the country. A year later he was sent to Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. When told there was no journalism program there, the bishop said, "Have him study philosophy." By 1955 Father Myers had his PhD, though he never took the diploma out of the trunk he then packed it in. He went on to more parish work in rural Nebraska, and in 1958 became editor of the Lincoln diocesan newspaper, a position he held for nine years while also chaplain for the University of Nebraska Newman Center. He then spent two years as pastor at York, then, after a year at Notre Dame, became a philosophy lecturer at Kennedy College, delighted with the opportunity to expose students to the Catholic intellectual heritage that had so inspired him, especially through great English convert writers like G.K. Chesterton. But arthritis became a problem, and he applied for transfer to Denver in hopes the climate would improve his health. The transfer became permanent in 1972 when he became associate paster of St. Mary's Church in Colorado Springs, where his brother Jim and family were delighted to have "Uncle Rawl" more continually in their lives. He lived and worked in Colorado Springs until his death, including pastoral work at St. Joseph's. Father Myers was a prolific and popular author. In addition to his work for Catholic newspapers, he wrote dozens of books and sent out Star magazine for over 30 years. His books include Journal of a Parish Priest, The Saints Show Us Christ, Daily Readings in Catholic Classics, Embraced by Mary, The Catholic Digest Book of Courage, Lent: A Journey to Resurrection, Faith Experiences of Catholic Converts, People Who Loved, and This Is the Seminary. For all his writing success, however, Father Myers was always grounded in a simple and profound Christian ideal, and spent his life serving others-his readers, his parishoners, his immediate family, and the many nieces and nephews whom he played with and who adored him in turn. His devotion to his faith was absolute, and he practiced it every day. "One prayer," he once said, "is worth more than ten meetings." We loved him with all our hearts. We love him still.

Published in The Gazette on Nov. 29, 2009
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