by Cecilia LaFrance
The solemn voice of a woman leading the pre-mass ritual reading of the Rosary echoes through the expanse below the ornately vaulted ceiling of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. A scattering of bowed heads among the wooden pews attend to the scripted verse. Above, angels, disciples, saints, and kings shaped from colors of stained glass dim with the late afternoon light. Further back, out the glass doors that partition the historic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Denver from tourists and traffic noise seeping between the gaps of massive church doors, Steve Fallon sits in his own silent reverence. He’s attends every evening for mass. But the Rosary is not his thing.
“I don’t participate in the rosary too much anymore.” Fallon prefers to prepare for service in a different way. “I pray, like, on an individual way, like me and Jesus are really good friends.”
Raised as a Catholic in Southern California, Fallon keeps his faith, despite having breaks in his worship. “There’s a lot to faith and trust. You know that phrase ‘Ask and you shall receive’? There was a lot to that.” As an example, Fallon credits prayer with providing him a car when he was without. “I asked the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In about a month, I was driving a car with a bike on the back to go ride along the South Platte.” The 71-year-old said he’s also asked about a 35-year-old woman he’s interested in, but that prayer hasn’t been realized. “Not yet,” Fallon gives a small smile. With no children, he’s open to the idea. “It’d be nice to have one.” It’s God’s choice, he says.
“I trust him and I’m doing better in my life than I ever did. I haven’t smoked cigarettes, drank, or got high on dope for ten years.” Fallon’s soft spoken voice matches his humble expression. He gestures his thumb in the direction of the doors, where two panhandlers plea for handouts at the sidewalk. “All those homeless people are my brothers from a different mother. . . . Jesus is the one who can get you off the streets.”
While in California, Fallon spent ten years homeless, and sympathizes. “You don’t plan it in eighth grade, but there you are, on the streets. It’s hard to get back off.” Fallon’s hardships didn’t end when he moved to Colorado. Drugs and drinking left him dependent on medical care. “I shouldn’t drink and I drank and I got all messed up.” He lived in a nursing home in Lakewood for four years, and required a five bypass open heart surgery.
During that time, his faith stayed strong, and Fallon took the bus to the Basilica for Sunday worship with the Arch Bishop. Eventually, with the assistance of social security disability and the referral of two deacons from the parish, Fallon found an apartment in a subsidized North Capitol Hill complex only a few blocks away. “Now I come (to service) every day,” he says.
A handful of new worshipers come in from the street and find a pew. Music begins and the small Monday night congregation, a diverse mix of ethnicity and age, rise as the priest appears on the altar. True to his daily ritual, Fallon excuses himself and enters his sanctuary.