Beloved Arvada parish celebrates centennial anniversary

Shrine of St. Anne marked 100 years with joy and a rejuvenated church

Rocio Madera

For the past 100 years, the Shrine of St. Anne Catholic Parish has joyfully served the community of Olde Town Arvada and surrounding areas. 

On July 26, Shrine of St. Anne celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special mass. This year, St. Anne also completed a major church renovation to refresh and rejuvenate the church. After lots of hard work and various delays due to the pandemic, on September 22, St. Anne had their solemn dedication of the altar with a special mass celebrated by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Father McGrath. Although the celebration was limited because of COVID-19 restrictions, parishioners who were unable to attend in person were able to witness this special moment via virtual live streaming.

It marked a rather unexpected, yet still joyful contrast to nearly 100 years ago, when on June 25, 1922, many visitors from other Denver Catholic churches and all members of the new church, attended the dedication of the Shire of St. Anne. That same day, Bishop Tihen presented a relic of St. Anne to the new church congregation, a particle of her wrist bone. He had acquired this reliquary in France, near the Shrine of Lourdes, during a visit to Europe in 1921.

To this day, the reliquary is still located in the chapel, displayed to the parishioners of St. Anne. Bishop Tihen also presented a consecrated altar stone which was placed at the back of St. Anne’s new altar. However, these sacred pieces are not the only things that make Shrine of St. Anne Parish so special. Both parishioners and employees have a special affection for this church that has brought them closer to Christ.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrated a dedication Mass for the Shrine of St. Anne on Sept. 22. The parish marked their 100th anniversary this year. (Photo by Jerry Martinez)

“Being a part of the Shrine of St. Anne community is to truly feel that we are an essential part of the Body of Christ,” said Karen Oldham, parishioner and Director of Religious Education at Shrine of St. Anne. “As transplants to Colorado over 35 years ago, St. Anne’s welcomed my family with open arms.  Since it is not an overly large parish, it is easy to get to know others, make friends, and get involved in the parish life.”

For Father Sean McGrath, pastor of the parish since June 2017, returning to St. Anne after he was a Parochial Vicar in the ‘90s is a huge blessing and makes him feel part of the family. 

“It’s a pleasure to return to The Shrine of St. Anne as the pastor,” Father McGrath said. “Twenty-nine years ago, the Shrine of St. Anne was my first assignment as a parochial vicar, working with Father Tom McCormick, indeed a fantastic pastor. There are many familiar faces in the pews which tells you the test of time.” 

St. Anne is a diverse and rapidly changing community that includes older parishioners that have seen their families grow up attending this parish. Shrine of St. Anne is also home to one of the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic Schools, which opened in 1961. Shrine of St. Anne Catholic School is a welcoming community that focuses on religious academics and Catholic faith formation. The school has over 355 students in grades K-8.

In conjunction with their 100th anniversary, the Shrine of St. Anne recently completed a complete renovation of their parish. (Photo by Jerry Martinez)

The Shrine of St. Anne offers a wide range of ministries to serve the community and continue evangelizing. A clear example is the Youth Ministry and Confirmation programs that serve the community in different ways. Some of their activities include, but are not limited to, serving the homeless community twice a year with Christ in the City, sponsoring a program with the City of Arvada to clean a local park trail multiple times a year, volunteering activities with other ministries, and being part of the Mountain Madness Youth Conference and the Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference.

Over the past three years, St. Anne parishioner Barbara Lambright and a group of other fellow parishioners have knit thousands hats for the homeless, the needy, fire departments and various charities. They call themselves the Arvada Mad Hatters. Denver 7 recently featured Lambridge as an Everyday hero. “We’ve always given back of our time talent and treasures, and this is a way of doing it,” Lambright told Denver 7.

Lambright and the Mad Hatters are just one part of the lovely and vibrant faith community that makes up the Shrine of St. Anne. With the mission, “To call all people together in Christ so that they will grow in holiness, live by His teaching and proclaim His Good News,” the parish has made sure to keep their faith alive and overcome all the challenges they have had to face, especially during the pandemic.  

“Throughout all the ups and downs, the one consistent thing I get from our parishioners is their devotion to this church, their desire to stay connected, and to be involved,” said Debbie Capra, receptionist and bulletin editor for the parish. “They want our parish and school to continue to be considered places that people CHOOSE to bring their families for their worship and their children’s education.” 

“To be a part of the Shrine of St. Anne, is to always feel loved, welcomed, and right at home in ‘Grandma’s House!’” Oldham concluded. 

COMING UP: Preparing your Home and Heart for the Advent Season

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The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the Lord’s birth on Christmas.  It extends over the four Sundays before Christmas.  Try some of these Ideas to celebrate Advent in your home by decorating, cooking, singing, and reading your way to Christmas. Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Special thanks to Patty Lunder for putting this together!

Advent Crafts

Handprint Advent Wreath for Children 
Bring the meaning of Advent into your home by having your kids make this fun and easy Advent wreath.

Pink and purple construction paper
– Yellow tissue or construction paper (to make a flame)
– One piece of red construction paper cut into 15 small circles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Two colors of green construction paper
– One paper plate
– 2 empty paper towel tubes

1. Take the two shades of green construction paper and cut out several of your child’s (Children’s) handprints. Glue the handprints to the rim of a paper plate with the center cut out.

2. Roll one of the paper towels tubes in purple construction paper and glue in place.

3. Take the second paper towel and roll half in pink construction paper and half in purple construction and glue in place.

4. Cut the covered paper towel tubes in half.

5. Cut 15 small circles from the red construction paper. Take three circles and glue two next to each other and a third below to make berries. Do this next to each candle until all circles are used.

6. Cut 4 rain drop shapes (to make a flame) from the yellow construction paper. Each week glue the yellow construction paper to the candle to make a flame. On the first week light the purple candle, the second week light the second purple candle, the third week light the pink candle and on the fourth week light the final purple candle.

A Meal to Share during the Advent Season

Slow-Cooker Barley & Bean Soup 

Make Sunday dinner during Advent into a special family gathering with a simple, easy dinner. Growing up in a large family, we knew everyone would be together for a family dinner after Mass on Sunday. Let the smells and aromas of a slow stress-free dinner fill your house and heart during the Advent Season. Choose a member of the family to lead grace and enjoy an evening together. This is the perfect setting to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in a special prayer for that week.

– 1 cup dried multi-bean mix or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
– 1/2 cup pearl barley (Instant works great, I cook separate and add at end when soup is done)
– 3 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
– 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
– 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (basil, oregano)
– Freshly ground black pepper
– One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
– 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for garnish

1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down and add their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours. 

2. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with a baguette.