Conference to address challenges ’99 percent’ of parishes experience

Julie Filby

The Amazing Parish Conference will be held April 21-22. For more info, visit or email annual Amazing Parish Conference to be held in Denver this spring aims to address struggles that nearly all parishes have, and offer tools, ideas and programs to address them—allowing parishes to make their communities even “more amazing.”

“There are some struggles that are common to 99 percent of parishes, and the seminar went right after them all,” explained Father John Paul Leyba, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster, who attended last year’s inaugural conference. “Not just identifying them, but offering some simple, practical and attainable short-term options and great long-term goals.”

Those universal challenges, he said, generally include things like not having enough money and space, as well as how to foster an environment where parishioners are aware of each other; seek out strangers and welcome them without judgment; encourage parishioners to “go deeper” in relationship with Christ and be “intentional disciples,” invite others to come to church; recruit volunteers out of inspiration not obligation; and understand how to handle inquiries from people interested in joining the Church.

After attending the conference, under Father Leyba’s leadership, the parish introduced two formation events for parents of children preparing for confirmation, started RCIA classes earlier in the fall, and launched a referral system to help engage people interested in joining the Church with existing formation programs such as bible studies, That Man Is You, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (Endow), and the Augustine Institute’s video-based catechesis, Symbolon.

“I was totally impressed, inspired and energized,” Father Leyba said. “With so much passion dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel, the nation could actually be re-evangelized and won for Jesus Christ!”

More than 450 participants filled last year’s conference to capacity, according to organizers. Registration is now open for the 2015 conference that will be held April 21-22 at Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

Keynote talks, workshops, presentations and interactive forums related to parish vision and teamwork will be delivered by returning and new speakers including author and leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni, biblical scholar Jeff Cavins, president of the Catholic Leadership Institute Matt Manion, vicar general of the Carmelite Sisters Sister Regina Marie Gorman, Fellowship of Catholic University Students founder Curtis Martin, Walking With Purpose founder Lisa Brenninkmeyer, and authors Father Michael White and Father James Mallon.

“I was very encouraged by the remarkable generosity of those who sponsored the event and those who donated their time to speak,” Father Leyba said. “They really care about the real world struggles of everyday priests and parishes.”

Parishes interested in participating are encouraged to bring teams of three to five people to the conference, and pastor attendance is required. Representatives may include paid staff such as business managers and youth ministers, and volunteers such as parish council members.

“Most important is that you send people who are leaders who will use what they learn from the conference to take action to transform your parish,” according to the conference website

The conference fee that covers the sessions and meals for five people, is $1,000. Scholarships are available.

Amazing Parish Conference
April 21-22 |

7 traits of an amazing parish
1. Reliance on prayer
2. A real leadership team
3. A clear vision
4. The Sunday experience
5. Compelling formation
6. Small group discipleship
7. Missionary zeal

COMING UP: Late St. Joseph deacon ‘reached out into the peripheries’ during ministry

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Deacon Maclovio (Max) Sanchez, 87, passed away peacefully in Olathe, Kansas on April 30. Deacon Sanchez was assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish in Denver throughout his diaconal ministry.

Maclovio Sanchez was born on May 21, 1931 in San Luis, Colorado, to Estevan and Emily Sanchez. He was baptized at Most Precious Blood Parish in San Luis, Colorado, on June 2, 1931 and grew up in Walsenberg, Colorado.  He graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Wasenberg.

On April 24, 1954, he married Mary Frances Marquez at Holy Rosary Parish in Denver.  Over the 65 years of their marriage, the couple was blessed with three children: Martin, Debra and Joshua. They also had numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In Denver, Max worked for Midwest Liquor Company, delivering products to the area stores. But his love was directed towards the poor communities in the metro area.  Max was vice chairman of the Coalition for the Westside Betterment and President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank. He and his wife were also very involved in the parish at St. Joseph’s.

On March 22, 1975, Maclovio was ordained a deacon at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception by Archbishop James Casey. This was only the second class of men ordained in the archdiocese at the time. He was immediately assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish where he also conducted numerous Spanish Missions and served at the Westside Action Center. Retiring from ministry in 1993, he continued to serve at St. Joseph’s Parish as long as his health would allow.

“Deacon Max reached out into the peripheries and brought the lost back into the Church,” said Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel. “We have been blessed to have such a dedicated Cleric and Servant of the Church in Denver.”