The Lanteri Center opened its doors on October 4, 2004. Fr. Ernest Sherstone, omv, visited Denver while he was still Director of the Ignatian Center in Montreal, Canada. He was struck by the Spirit and moved to establish a spiritual direction center here. He heard God’s call and generously said yes. Fr. Ernie is a kindly sage who brought a lifetime of experience and expertise as a humble leader. A true student of St. Ignatius, he had the ability to meet everyone where they were at and bring out their best.
Fr. Dan Barron, omv, agreed to help Fr. Ernie get the Lanteri Center going. He brought the gifts of counsel, vision, IT and teaching, drawing many excellent people to the Center, as well as connecting the Center with other organizations across the country, such as the Institute for Priestly Formation. With Fr. Ernie, he also helped lay the foundation for the Center to be more ecumenically minded and wide-open to anyone who wished to come. All anyone needed was a serious desire for Christ.
Next, in 2005, came Al Starkey, a married layman, who had abandoned a lucrative corporate career to become a spiritual director. He brought years of experience working in developing programs on a national and international level, as well as a keen understanding of the field of psychology. He was pivotal in helping develop our formation programs.
Soon after opening, the Lord sent us generous benefactors who helped keep us afloat and made our ramshackle building much more beautiful and welcoming. One generous donor, in particular, supplied us with all the furniture, rugs and new paint jobs needed. We were given a building to use, and now, thanks to our donors, it is in even better shape than before.
Who can forget Ruthie Rogers, our first secretary and bookkeeper who did all the administrative work, so our priests and staff could concentrate on the spiritual? Ruthie’s work in getting everything up and running was invaluable. Her work was continued by Lou Ann Doran, who not only kept everything running smoothly and organized, she also became the loving face and welcoming spirit of the Center.
Fr. Greg Cleveland, omv, came in the fall of 2006 to replace Fr. Dan when he was transferred to Boston. Fr. Greg also has the gifts of teaching, preaching, writing and encouragement, plus the ability to reach out in friendship and draw other people in. You can find him on golf course, ski slopes as well as behind the desk or pulpit, hard at work. He is a man of all trades and talents. The Center is now being guided by his good hands.
Next came the ladies, first Bonnie Vanni, who brought her gifts of healing prayer and a wise, listening heart. Then Lee McDowell, who spent decades forming disciples of the Lord, helping them grow spiritually, as well as years of experience working as a counselor, bringing all these talents to her work as a spiritual director and teacher. And then Kay Davis, who brought her 20 years experience living a monastic life in the desert. Finally, Catherine Hubka, our first graduate of both our training programs, joined our staff with her charism of guiding souls to Christ.
We have been blessed with countless people who have come and contributed through mailings, parties, missionings, the launching of new programs, supervision and so much more. Not to mention our amazing students. All these people have contributed to help the Center thrive and grow. God continues to pour out his blessings upon the Lanteri Center in myriad ways.