Life Story Denver Priest Dedicated to Organization

By Virginia Culver
Denver Post
August 22, 2003

Lawrence St. Peter didn't learn to speak English until he entered first grade in the small Maine town where he grew up.

But he became fluent in English and eventually became known as an accomplished speaker, which served him well during his more than 30 years in the Catholic priesthood.

St. Peter, 74, was found dead in his Denver home Monday. The cause of death hasn't been determined.

Services for St. Peter, who was a Denver Archdiocesan official and pastor of several churches, will be at 10 a.m. today at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 12130 E. Kentucky Ave., Aurora. Interment will be at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.

'Larry had the common touch and was very interested in people's lives,' said longtime friend Gerald Phelan. 'He absolutely loved being a priest and was well-loved.'

But St. Peter also was a Type A personality and was dedicated to organization, Phelan said.

'When we were in seminary, he ran the student store and the bookstore. The bookstore had been losing money, but when Larry took it over the place began humming and started making money,' Phelan said.

St. Peter was an avid skier and amateur photographer. He liked to take pictures of flowers and then use them for greeting cards, Phelan said.

He took dozens of trips to Israel and Rome, often leading tour groups.

Lawrence St. Peter was born May 8, 1929, in Ashland, Maine, near the Canadian border. He was one of 16 children in a French farm family.

He served four years in the Air Force and was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base, doing photography.

It was there he met Monsignor Edward Leyden, Lowry chaplain, who talked St. Peter into becoming a priest.

St. Peter graduated from St. Thomas Seminary in south Denver and earned his master's degree in counseling and guidance from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was ordained in 1959 and served as a priest until 1993.

He was pastor of several churches, including Church of the Risen Christ in southeast Denver, Holy Family in north Denver, Mother of God in central Denver and St. Elizabeth's in Buffalo Creek. He was named a monsignor in 1988.

St. Peter held several positions at the archdiocesan headquarters. He was superintendent of schools, vicar for priests, member of the archdiocesan building commission and director of continuing education.

When Denver Archbishop J. Francis Stafford died in 1986, St. Peter was named administrator for the archdiocese until a new archbishop was named.

St. Peter is survived by two sisters: Jean Smith of Centennial and Pauline Willett of Presque Isle, Maine.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Fund for Retired Priests, Archdiocese of Denver, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210.

CORRECTION-DATE: August 24, 2003


Because of a reporting error, an article on Page 9C Friday incorrectly identified the Denver Catholic archbishop who died in 1986. It was Archbishop James V. Casey who died. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford is head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome. Stafford served the Denver Archdiocese from 1986 until 1996. He was named a cardinal in 1998.


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