Catholic Vitamin J: Jubilee

Greetings once again. This week’s podcast and faith topic is Catholic Vitamin J for Jubilee. The dictionary on my (Mac) computer has this for the first two definitions of the word Jubilee: 

a special anniversary of an event, esp. one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity : [as adj. ] jubilee celebrations.

• Judaism (in Jewish history) a year of emancipation and restoration, celebrated every fifty years.

  • (in full Jubilee Year) a period of remission from the penal consequences of sin, granted by the Roman Catholic Church under certain conditions for a year, usually at intervals of twenty-five years.

I set out to find a few priests (or deacons or nuns) who were celebrating any milestone of service to The Lord God and God’s people. In the week of trying to do so, I was able to connect (and schedule – scheduling is always the toughie !) with one priest.

His name is Fr. Manuel Gabel. He’s been ordained an amazing 55 years, and as deacon of the Mass, I served with Father Gabel at three of the English liturgies at Our Lady of the Mountains parish in Estes Park, CO the weekend of September 8th and 9th, 2012. He had previously served as pastor of that parish and as we processed out of the Church at the end of Masses, it was easy to see that he had a goodly number of friends and parishioners who remembered him and reached out to him. I found the following ‘sketch’ about Fr. on an archdiocesan website for the DENVER CATHOLIC REGISTER ( It is a bit dated, but it does tell some of his history in service to the people of God in Colorado.


When Father Manuel Gabel made his First Holy Communion he wrote to his sister, who was one of two sisters who were nuns with the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood in Wichita, Kan., telling of this great event, and adding, “I am going to be a priest.”

After graduating from St. Francis de Sales High School, Father Gabel attended St. Thomas Seminary and was ordained by Archbishop Urban Vehr on May 31, 1957. He offered his first Mass at his home parish in St. Francis de Sales.

After spending the summer at Holy Ghost Church in Denver, Father Gabel was assigned to Assumption Parish in Leadville, and also served as chaplain at the Catholic hospital. While in Leadville, Dillon Dam was being built. Father Gabel was asked to begin a mission in Dillon to serve the many Catholics working on the dam construction. Establishing missions in Dillon, Breckenridge and Fairplay were both challenging and enjoyable because of the ever-changing beauty of the mountains.

In 1959 Father Gabel became associate pastor at Presentation Parish in Denver until 1963, when he was named pastor at St. John’s Church in Stoneham, with its missions of Briggsdale and Grover. While most of the priests in the diocese thought that this was a difficult assignment, Father Gabel found it highly enjoyable. The parishioners were cooperative and affirming, and the trips to the missions for Sunday Mass were pleasant as Father Gabel found a great deal of beauty in the prairie. The friendship of all the priests in the small farming communities around Sterling proved a great help in dispelling loneliness and providing support.

In 1963 Archbishop James Casey was appointed to Denver. One of his first actions was to visit all the parishes. However, the priest assigned to drive him to Stoneham could not find that small village. When the archbishop did eventually make it to Stoneham, he asked Father Gabel if he liked to teach. Naively, Father Gabel answered “yes,” since he had enjoyed teaching high school religion while at Presentation. The archbishop proceeded to assign him as chaplain at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, teaching medical ethics at the School of Nursing there.

In 1969 Father Gabel was returned to pastoral duties at St. Anthony Church in Julesburg, and, in 1971, was assigned as pastor to his old home parish of St. Francis de Sales in Denver. Msgr. Gregory Smith remained at the parish as pastor emeritus. Father Gabel’s high school religion teacher and old pastor was a tremendous help, as well as a best friend.

The St. Francis assignment began a “seven-year” period. Father Gabel remained at St. Francis for seven years, then he worked at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Castle Rock for seven years, and finally he toiled for another seven years as pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Estes Park. It was while there that Father Gabel acquired a great love for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Father Gabel still enjoys regular hikes with his priest-buddies.

As an insert from Catholic Vitamins at this point – Fr. Gabel is now retired, living down in the Denver ‘valley’ and fills in at parishes for priests who need vacation or other time away from their parishes.


We are so very blessed to have been joined on this new media evangelization effort by the talent and treasure of a talented lady, Marianna Bartholomew. We asked her to update her ‘resume’ recently and we’ve decided to include it in toto here: 

Marianna Robin Bartholomew is an award-winning journalist, poet and New Media Evangelist from the Chicago area, whose writings have been featured in Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, EXTENSION Magazine, Chicago’s Catholic New World, in archdiocesan and diocesan newspapers world-wide, and on Chicago’s WKQX radio program “The Journey Inward.”

Winner of seven national Catholic Press Association Journalism Awards and Chicago’s Cardinal’s Communications Award for Professional Excellence, Marianna contributes to Catholic News Agency, and she blogs at about living a balanced life and faith amidst our techno-happy world.

Former Managing Editor of the national Catholic EXTENSION Magazine, Marianna’s visits to our nation’s Indian missions culminated in writing archived in Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Library Native American collection. She shares Missionary Moments — reflections on her extensive travels to America’s home missions — in the Starquest Production Network-affiliated podcast Catholic Vitamins. She is completing her first young adult novel based on her experiences interning at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.. Reviews have described her writing as “lyrical,” “penetrating and sensitive,” qualities enhanced by her primary vocation as wife and homeschool mother of three. She teaches an innovative, new classical education program called Classically Catholic Memory in a 19-family homeschool co-op, and thrives on family trips, canoeing, seeking hidden pockets of wilderness, gardening, exploring new technology, haunting Chicago’s intriguing sites, Symphony Orchestra performances and many museums — and sharing her love of the Faith and fine words.

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