Community to celebrate Presentation’s legacy

Julie Filby

In its 91-year history, Presentation of Our Lady School has provided a Catholic education for thousands of children. Alumni, former and current staff, students, parents and anyone involved with the school is invited to a reunion May 30 to look back on the legacy of the west Denver school before it closes in June.

“It was fun, like one big family,” Joan Pfenning, 81, told the Denver Catholic. “Everybody knows everybody.”

Pfenning has been a member of Presentation of Our Lady Parish for 52 years and served as the school’s secretary for 20 years. She’s looking forward to the reunion and seeing old friends like “Mrs. Schnur,” who managed the school cafeteria for 27 years; Jeanette Vahling Wacholtz, who attended Presentation herself then had a family member there every year for 63 years straight, and “Andy,” who once babysat one of school’s most beloved alumni, Father Ron Cattany, soon-to-be-installed pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Closure of the school, founded in 1924, was announced by 10-year pastor Father Edward Poehlmann last November following consultation with the parish finance and pastoral councils and the Archdiocese of Denver. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the space will be leased to Escuela de Guadalupe, an independent Catholic school with a dual-language program, founded in north Denver in 1999.

“We’re very grateful for the alumni,” Father Poehlmann said. “The last 10 years have been difficult for the school and they’ve been very helpful and supportive.”

At its height in the 1960s, Presentation served nearly 500 students in the Barnum neighborhood. In the last decade, more than $3.6 million was invested by Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust, The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado and the archdiocese.

A plan was developed by the Office of Catholic Schools to facilitate the transition of Presentation students and teachers. Of 97 students, more than 60 plan to go to other archdiocesan schools, primarily St. Francis de Sales and St. Bernadette, according to Father Poehlmann. The Presentation community has pledged to help the students with the transition financially, including continuing their annual golf tournament fundraiser, which will be held Aug. 18 at Inverness Golf Course in Englewood. Father Poehlmann also said that all of the teachers have jobs for next year.

The reunion will begin with 4:30 p.m. Mass in the church at 695 Julian St., celebrated by Father Poehlmann, followed by a reception in the school gym at 660 Julian St. Refreshments will be served. There is no charge for the event, though there will be an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to raise funds for students.

“We’re so anxious to keep the kids leaving Presentation in Catholic schools,” Pfenning said.

“Presentation of Our Lady School has served the community of west Denver well for 90 years, thanks in no small part to the sacrifice and hard work of the Sisters of Mercy,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila wrote in a statement last November when the closure was announced. “The school has struggled in the past few years … but this in no way diminishes the great work it has accomplished in the lives of generations of students.”

Guests are encouraged to show their Panther Pride at the reunion by wearing shirts with school logos. RSVP to Joan Pfenning at 303-936-5934 or Bill Uebelher at

COMING UP: Lebanese priest: ‘We need your prayers’ after Beirut explosions

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A Lebanese Catholic priest has asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country, after two explosions in Beirut injured hundreds of people and are reported to have left at least 10 people dead.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

“We are currently going through a difficult phase in Lebanon, as you can see on TV and on the news,” the priest added.

Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic living in Lebanon, echoed the priest’s call.

“I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers,” Nader told CNA Tuesday.

Explosions in the port area of Lebanon’s capital overturned cars, shattered windows, set fires, and damaged buildings across Beirut, a city of more than 350,000, with a metro area of more than 2 million people.

“It was a huge disaster over here and the whole city was almost ruined because of this explosion and they’re saying it’s kind of a combination of elements that made this explosion,” Antoine Tannous, a Lebanese journalist, told CNA Tuesday.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

According to Lebanon’s state-run media, hundreds of injured people have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the city.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Chrsitians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Featured image: A picture shows the scene of an explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)