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Mr. P. Eugene Guerin

Deceased: 2014-03-02

Diocese: SANTA FE

Seminary Graduation Year: 1963

(An obituary was not available but the following is the eulogy given by Mr. Ted Zerwin, a classmate at the NAC.)

I met Gene for the first time almost 55 years ago in Rome in the seminary there.  It was September of 1959.  We’ve been the best of friends ever since.  Gene was sent to Rome by the Archbishop of Santa Fe two years before to study philosophy, and he was about to begin 4 more years of theology studies.  I had just arrived in Rome to begin my theology studies, sent there by the Archbishop of Detroit.  So we were classmates.

Our place of residence was the North American College, on the Janiculum Hill over looking the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.  There were about 280 young men there from all over the United States.  We all went to school at the Gregorian University in downtown Rome – about 2 blocks from the Trevi Fountain.  We would board chartered buses every weekday morning and head off to school to be lectured to in Latin from the best theologians in the Jesuit Order from all over the world.  Our classmates at the “Greg” – as we affectionately called it – were also from all over the world.  So here were two guys from humble, hard working parents now thrown together with not only the best minds from our own country, but also the best and the brightest that the Catholic Church had to offer from all over the world.  Frankly, I think that we were both extremely challenged and a bit over-whelmed by the experience of it all.  This is probably why we became such good friends.

What do I remember about Gene during these 4 years of our life together?  Well, I know this, that he was a serious student and had a deep commitment to his future life as a priest.  He also was a creative person behind the scenes – literally.   Witness the creative talents he exhibited regularly to the busy stage at the college, where we annually put on plays and invited the English speaking population in Rome to attend.  Yes, Gene would design the scenery and lead the crews that would change them hurriedly between acts.  He was also quite a handball player and very good at cards – especially Bridge.   We often would play Bridge together, sometimes taking 3-day trips around Italy, and making sure that the two others that we traveled with were also Bridge players.  I remember one such trip to Tivoli, along with Bill Tuyn – now retired as a priest in Buffalo – and Matt Clark – now recently retired from being the Bishop of Rochester, New York, for at least 20 years.  Tivoli is just a short bus trip (30 minutes?) from downtown Rome.  Obviously, the intent of the trip was to enjoy playing Bridge and to enjoy good food and companionship – and not to see Italy!  I also remember one other time when Gene exercised his creativity by making a kite from some old material and a couple of sticks and taking it with us as the whole class went to the beach at Anzio.  Much to my surprise that day, the kite flew very easily and we were the entertainment for all the people at the beach that afternoon.

Well, during our fourth year of theology, we were ordained priests in December of 1962.  And, after taking final exams at the Greg the following spring, we headed for home – Gene back to Santa Fe and I to Detroit to begin our ministry.  Gene and I stayed in touch during this time, and, when I decided to take my parents on a car trip to California to visit with relatives during the summer of 1965, I made sure to stop and see Gene along the way.  By then he was the secretary to the Archbishop of Santa Fe (already on his way to being made a Bishop himself!!).

I would not see Gene again until after I left the priesthood in 1969, married Su several months later, and moved here to Denver to get started on a new career by getting a Master’s degree in Social Work at DU.  While on campus that fall, I saw Gene one day there himself.  What a surprise that was!!  He was still a priest working on weekends at Holy Trinity out in Westminster, but on a leave of absence from Santa Fe.  He was attending DU as well, getting a Master’s degree in Communications.  I immediately invited him to our home, but he refused.   His reason was that he did not want to see me married and happy, when he was trying to make an objective decision about whether or not he would remain in the priesthood.  Well, he called me a couple of months later, telling me that he now had made the decision to leave the priesthood and that he would like to come over to meet Su.   Over dinner, he told us about Rita back in Santa Fe and that we would be able to meet her soon.  And so began a new chapter in our friendship!!

By the way, I need to say here that, because Gene and I were loyal sons of the Church, we were both married in the Church, with the blessing of the Pope.

The new chapter began with Gene and Rita purchasing a home in Denver at 1600 Pontiac, and Su and I shortly thereafter buying one at 1325 Olive Street – about 3 blocks away!!!!  And then came our kids: John Zerwin in 1971, Philip Guerin in 1972,  Sarah Zerwin in 1973, Rebecca Guerin in 1974.  Our lives were changed forever!!  Now we had to learn about being Dads!  Thank God that we had the support of Rita and Su in this.  Our families celebrated every birthday and every major holiday together.  To this day, all eight of us cherish our friendship.  And now Gene has left us.  But he has enriched our lives immeasurably.

He was, as the obituary in Wednesday’s Denver Post stated so well: “(an) award winning writer, cherished husband, father, grandfather, friend (to all of us here).  In life, as in death, dignified, wise, witty, and surrounded by love.  (Yes, Gene,) our time together passed (much) too quickly!!  Como un Sueno!”