Church construction is a sign of growth and hope for the future of the Church and those she serves. The latest project in the Denver Archdiocese—a new church at Light of the World Parish in Littleton, that broke ground Jan. 19—is a shining example of that hope and service.
“There’s been a real resurgence in our Catholic identity at the parish,” explained Father Michael Pavlakovich, in his eighth year as pastor of the church at 10316 W. Bowles Ave. “A real desire to put that faith into action.”
Last year, the parish of 3,000 households tithed more than $100,000 to the poor, donated a substantial amount of food, prepared more than 700 food baskets for families at Thanksgiving, and provided about 1,000 gifts at Christmas, among other service projects.
“To do that stuff, you need space,” Father Pavlakovich affirmed.
The construction and remodel will create a space dedicated for Mass, as well as free up other space for pastoral, ministerial and social needs. Since established in 1979, the parish has worshipped in a multi-purpose space for 35 years.
“It’s a space for both worship and ‘partying,’” said Father Pavlakovich. “We’ve had to find creative ways to maneuver, which has limited us incredibly.”
Once they were debt-free in early 2010, leadership began looking towards the original plan to build a permanent structure for Mass and sacraments.
“We are starting debt-free which makes it easier,” the pastor said, adding that they raised the funds needed to begin in two years, ahead of the projected three years. They have $3.2 million of the budgeted $6.4 million in hand.
“The parishioners have sacrificed a great deal,” he said. “This endeavor has really been a parish event.”
At the groundbreaking, Father Pavlakovich and members of parish were joined by representatives from the archdiocese, Greenwood Village architect Eidos Architects and general contractor Centennial’s Haselden Construction.
Eidos’ design carefully blends the existing contemporary architecture with a traditional octagonal sanctuary, surrounded by four stained glass windows depicting angels.
“The angelic windows,” as Father Pavlakovich calls them, were rescued and revitalized from a church back East. A traditional crucifix, also rescued from a church, will be suspended in the sanctuary.
With curved pews and kneelers—a first for the parish—the new church will accommodate about 1,300 congregants; up from the previous capacity of 700. There will be space for a traditional and contemporary choir, a cry room, extended narthex, and in the north and south corners: private devotional coves.
“These are two elements I’m very proud of,” Father Pavlakovich said. One will contain statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa; the other: St. Anthony, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Katharine Drexel.
“More contemporary saints were selected,” he said. “(As well as) those representing the value of life and charity.”
The rock used for baptisms will be used in the new church and a pool created around it. There will be a skylight above the font, flooding the space with natural light. The existing perpetual adoration chapel will remain the same. The pastor attributes the resurgence in faith and service to eucharistic adoration.
“When I got here we started perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; spaces filled up pretty quickly,” he said. From there came a real desire to care for the poor in the area.
“(Our) parishioners are saying that their faith and where they worship is a priority,” he continued. “The vision and sacrifice is a profound sign of the continued growth of the faith, and of our archdiocese.”
Construction is expected to begin this week, and they hope to celebrate in the new church on the parish feast day next year: Jan. 6, the solemnity of the Epiphany.