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Meet Fr. Daniel Ciucci | Eden Invitation Priest Companion

March 2024 Good Fruit Feature

Meet Fr. Daniel Ciucci | Eden Invitation Priest Companion

We often talk about living in the tension– living the beauty of God’s plan given to us in the Church’s teachings in a world that rarely agrees. 


“[Eden Invitation] seeks to be faithful, seeks to give its members an experience of safety and community… I think this is what I love most: It proclaims that if you're going to live faithfully to God's plan, you don't have to do it alone, and you're not doomed to a life of loneliness.”


That’s Father Daniel Ciucci, a man living in the tension not as a community member, but as one of our Priest Companions walking beside our members. 


This year we began introducing our first Priest Companions to some of our Hearth Groups across the United States. Priest Companions are trained to accompany our Hearth Groups (local chapters), and they are available for spiritual guidance, to administer the Sacraments, and to build community together. 


“I'm a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver,” Fr. Daniel shares, “I love being a pastor–currently serving at Most Precious Blood Catholic Parish.” In his free time, Fr. Daniel loves to spend time in the outdoors, “I'm a skier. I've climbed 15 of our 54 ‘14ers’ out here–those peaks over 14,000 feet.” 

“I first found out about Eden Invitation from a friend of mine who is a community member, a former seminarian. He had asked myself and a couple other buddies from seminary to just hear his story. It was a beautiful testament to the Lord's work in his life and his coming into fuller authenticity–grasping how the Lord's been active in his story… he found a lot of peace and freedom in Eden Invitation.”

After that, Fr. Daniel and others discerned with David Neira, our Community Coordinator, their involvement as Priest Companions: “Myself and another priest here in Denver both have an openness to this ministry and a desire to see people belong in the Church, whosoever wants to follow Jesus. Why shouldn't the Church strive to cast the nets wide and far, but also be authentic to herself?”

As a Priest Companion, Fr. Daniel started getting to know our Hearth Group Members in Denver. Meeting EI community members helped Fr. Daniel reflect on his own experiences of tension as a Catholic priest: “Because I have always been a faithful Catholic, I think people have assumed that I'm ‘anti-gay people’…And then at the same time, I've seen some people in our Church not know how to make room for those who have same-sex desires, so it's a tension…”

“My experience of EI members is that they're very compassionate because they feel that tension– finding it hard to belong in multiple worlds…In Eden Invitation there's an openness to invite a priestly voice to speak into those experiences.”

When speaking about LGBTQ+ experiences, Fr. Daniel wants the truth to be shared with Christ’s tenderness: “The first thing that is to be said isn't just about the ‘moral living’, but rather a voice of tenderness, welcome, and love as Jesus would give to anyone– but sometimes the priest doesn't even get to go there because he himself has already been judged, [but in Eden Invitation] I felt very received, and very welcomed as a faithful son of the Church.”

So what does it look like to be a Priest Companion– someone who walks side-by-side with those seeking to live in faithful obedience and joyful hope?

“I just hosted a dinner at my rectory and I loved that it was just like, ‘normal’ ministry with young adults… there was a camaraderie into which I was being invited, and it was a really cool experience.

I’m looking forward to more ‘normal’ life with the Hearth Group members: I mean like catching a summer baseball game or going to a brewery together– just doing the work of sharing life amid the other weightier conversations that we can have. I love that it's not all just talk of moral theology or difficult personal experiences. It's actually a sharing of the whole person–the joy, lightheartedness, even frivolity.”

In addition to growing with the Hearth Group, Fr. Daniel shared his excitement for Eden Invitation’s growth:

“I'm looking forward to Eden Invitation having a greater level of exposure and for people to understand [it]. The normative presence of this community and mission at all of the different Catholic things like SEEK and the National Eucharistic Congress is so important because [those with same-sex desires and gender discordances] themselves go, whether they've told their stories about their experiences or not.”

We are so grateful for Fr. Daniel Ciucci, and all of those priests who support our community and mission! 


Want to meet another Priest Companion? Meet Fr. Nathan Hall from the Diocese of Lincoln, NE.

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