Holy Ghost, renewed by the Spirit

Refurbishing plans are put in place to renew church's beauty

In downtown Denver, it’s ordinary to see buses, light rail trains, and plenty of foot traffic. Everything is in movement, because movement is ordinary for city life. Progress is abundantly evident in the changes downtown Denver has experienced over the years. However, when one reaches the corner of Nineteenth and California it’s also ordinary to witness someone stop, however short it may be, and look up, not at the skyscrapers above, but at Holy Ghost Church, which will soon be celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Pope Francis has been quoted as saying how a church needs “…nearness, proximity.” He also says how it can be compared to a “field hospital.” Holy Ghost has used its proximity to downtown Denver to fulfill this description, not only providing for the spiritual but the corporal needs of its surrounding neighbors who ask for assistance. Through the years, however, the “field hospital” has become in need of some repairs.

Holy Ghost Parish stands as a

Holy Ghost Parish stands as a “field hospital” in the midst of Downtown Denver. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

A parish committee was formed at the request of its pastor, Father Chris Uhl, in preparation for the church’s anniversary. One of the goals for the planning committee, Father Uhl said, was to “look at ways we can clean and restore some of the damage at Holy Ghost and some of the deterioration. There’s a lot of dirt and a lot of candle wax and incense smoke that have built up in the sanctuary and the side altars. There’s a lot of deterioration outside on the cement portions of the Church.” Such deterioration, that pieces of exterior stonework have fallen onto the ground. One such piece currently sits on Father Uhl’s desk.

Father Chris Uhl holds a piece of the exterior stonework that has fallen off of the outside of Holy Ghost Parish. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

A capital campaign has been put into place entitled “Holy Ghost, Renewed by The Spirit!” which has a monetary goal of $2.4 million in order to help with the list of improvements around the church, which include lighting in the sanctuary, cleaning the sanctuary ceiling, and cleaning and repairing cracked stone and tile. “We just went over the half way mark last week (the week of June 5th). A lot of that is from the parishioners here at Holy Ghost.”

The church building itself, with its mixture of Spanish and Italian Renaissance architecture, points to the mystery of our Catholic faith. Inside, one finds its walls and columns covered in 300 tons of cream, dark pink and ruby colored marble. Among its many highlights one will also notice an ornate baldacchino. The baldacchino is the arched roof that is above the tabernacle and was specifically designed into Holy Ghost for the purpose of adoration, which still continues to this day Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m.

Father Uhl commented that “In the last seventy years Denver has seen so many changes. So many huge buildings constructed . . .all kinds of expansion, growth . . . and yet Holy Ghost is still here. It’s still a church that is thriving, that professes the faith, that lives the faith in sacraments and social ministry. So with all the changes in Denver . . . there’s a constant in [downtown] Denver and one of those constants is Holy Ghost.”

The baldacchino, the giant archway that sits above the tabernacle, is just one piece of the interior of the church that will be restored. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

The baldacchino of the church, a giant archway that sits above the tabernacle, is just one piece of the interior of the church that will be restored. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

The social ministry program at Holy Ghost is another “constant” in the church’s story and that of downtown Denver’s. The ministry is well embodied through a story of one of its former pastors, Monsignor Charles Woodrich, lovingly known as Father Woody, who had opened up the doors of Holy Ghost during a pair of particularly cold winter evenings. Father Uhl added, “He probably saved lives that night.”

The social ministry program today includes such services as regularly handing out between 500 – 750 sandwiches a day to those in need, providing vouchers in obtaining vital records, and providing various clothing items throughout the year. It has been Holy Ghost’s pastors who have consecutively continued these programs.

The clean splotch pictured at the left illustrates the restoration that will take place on the interior roof of Holy Ghost Parish. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

The clean splotch pictured at the left illustrates the restoration that will take place on the interior roof of Holy Ghost Parish. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

Some samples of restoration work can already be seen throughout Holy Ghost. Looking at the roof of the transept, near the front left portion of the church, it’s possible to compare the restoration work alongside the uncleaned portions. Also, the sixth and seventh stations of the cross have been touched up. It is remarkable to see the vibrancy of the colors in the cleaned and restored portions of the church.

If you wish to assist the capital campaign, donations may be made online through the Holy Ghost website, by calling the parish office, or by taking the time to stop by the church itself to place an offering in a secure donation box. The celebration for Holy Ghost will take place during July 2018, and further details will be forthcoming as the parish continues in its preparations.

With all of the ordinary sightings around downtown Denver and our day to day lives, it is important for us to take a moment to stop and recognize the extraordinary gift we have in the sacraments and this “field hospital” we have in the midst of downtown Denver, Holy Ghost.

COMING UP: Build, and they will come

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Build, and they will come

Guardian Angels Parish in Mead raising funds to build a bigger church

Aaron Lambert

Having a small church can lead to big problems, especially in a booming area.

Father Alan Hartway and Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Mead are in desperate need of a bigger church. The parish launched a capitol campaign in April to raise funds for the construction of a new church building. The project is split into three phases, and they need to raise $3.6 million to begin the first phase of construction.

The campaign was launched in an effort to keep with the rapid growth of Mead and the surrounding Northern Colorado areas. Their parishioners come from Mead and all the nearby towns, including Longmont, Loveland, Berthoud and Johnstown. They have a total of 230 families currently registered, and that number keeps increasing.

The tiny church building they have has been there since the early 1900s, and as charming as it is, it’s just not cutting it anymore. Guardian Angels has gone from having one Mass per weekend in 2007 to having four Masses every weekend, each of which fills their 99-person capacity building to the brim with parishioners.

Guardian Angels pastor Father Alan Hartway, left, and parishioner Doug Staver, right, enjoy a conversation in the current Guardian Angels church building, which is far too small for their rapidly growing parish. They are currently raising money to build a bigger church. (Photo by Aaron Lambert | Denver Catholic)

“It’s packed. People drive away,” Father Hartway said.

It’s not just the masses that are full, either.

“If we have a wedding or a funeral, we have to go to St. John’s in Longmont or somewhere larger to accommodate all the families,” said Donna Staver, a Guardian Angels parishioner. She and her husband Doug are on the committee for the capitol campaign.

The parish also boasts a hall in its office building that’s one of the bigger spaces available for public gatherings in Mead. In addition to bible studies and youth groups, the hall serves as the meeting place for local non-Catholic services as well, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and a food bank. Father Hartway said the hall was used 315 days in 2014.

Guardian Angel’s active involvement in the local community is a part of a bigger spiritual philosophy Father Hartway has. He doesn’t see himself as just the priest at Guardian Angels; he strives to be a spiritual leader for Mead and the surrounding areas.

“I really believe we have to be a part of the whole community. We can’t just do our own little thing,” Father Hartway said. “People like when there’s outreach and there’s focus. It builds pride. Our presence here is valuable to people, and we want to grow that because we can.”

When they began soliciting funds from their parishioners to build the new church, people were very receptive, Donna said. They’ve had an 87% support rate.

“They were all thrilled with the idea of building a new church,” she said.

They’ve also received funds from people who aren’t Catholic, which shows that Guardian Angel’s presence in the community reaches more than just the Catholics, Father Hartway said.

They own seven and a quarter acres of land, located on their property, and the new building will be built there. It will seat 350 people initially, but will be expandable for the future.

Once the new church is built, the old church building will remain where it is and serve as a prayer chapel, as well as a place to have weddings and funerals.

The initial plans for the new church were designed for easy expansion, and could take up to 10 or 20 years for all three phases to be fully completed, Father Hartway said.

“If we really were to think about it, we’d need something even bigger because in 20 years, there’s going to be far more growth here,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer why we have to build.”

For more information or to donate money towards the construction of the new church, contact Guardian Angel’s parish office at 970-535-0721.