On Aug. 15, 1993, St. John Paul II celebrated the Feast of the Assumption at Cherry Creek State Park in what was perhaps the largest Mass the State of Colorado has ever seen.
And on that same day 29 years later, a new Catholic high school in Denver bearing St. John Paul II’s namesake was blessed by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila a week ahead of the launch of its inaugural school year. St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School will welcome its first class on freshmen on Aug. 22 and add to the growing legacy of Catholic high schools in Colorado, both old and new.
“It is an exciting time in the life of the archdiocese, and on this day particularly, that we dedicate John Paul the Great High School,” Archbishop Aquila said during a blessing ceremony of the new high school. “It is a tremendous blessing and tremendous witness to our faith. Ten years ago, when I came back to Denver, this high school was unexpected. And it shows what happens when you open your heart to the Lord, when you really seek the counsel of the Lord and really let his Holy Spirit be the one who does the work.”
St. John Paul the Great has been established in Denver’s old Rosedale Elementary School, just down the street from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and school, and will adhere to a classical curriculum. The school building itself is currently undergoing extensive renovations and additions. The blessing ceremony gathered outside of the high school in what is an active construction zone.
“Today really just marks the beginning of where we’re going with the school with the help of this community,” said high school president Jeff Kummer.
While there is still much construction to be done in Phase II of the high school, which will include athletic fields, a chapel, cafeteria, theater, library and more classrooms, attendees of the blessing ceremony were invited inside the school to see the completed Phase I renovations.
Principal Erin Huele introduced the faculty of five and spoke about the core value of discipleship as being foundational to the culture of the high school.
“Imitating [Christ], this is what we seek to do at John Paul the Great. And you cannot seek to form disciples, as we have claimed we will do, if you are not a staff of disciples as well,” Huele explained. That’s really what I want to highlight about the faculty, is the first and foremost reason why they were brought onto the staff of John Paul the Great is because they are disciples of Jesus Christ. They are his students. They desire to learn about him and love him ever more deeply.”
The incoming class of freshmen consists of 25 students, each of whom were gifted a replica of St. John Paul II’s pectoral cross as a token to commemorate being part of the inaugural class.
“The Lord was faithful to us and that in bringing us these inaugural freshmen,” Huele said. “I can’t wait to see how they are changed by this experience. I’m full of excitement for what that looks like.”
For more information about St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School, visit jpthegreatdenver.org.