Dream soon a reality for Light of the World

The build-up of anticipation among the Light of the World Parish community for the unveiling of their new church is so great that some are angling for a sneak peak.

Longtime and new members of the Littleton parish have been caught peeking in the new church windows and peppering insiders with questions about progress before the final reveal.

“The anticipation from the parishioners is electric,” said Kurt Connolly, a parishioner who helped oversee the design and construction. “(The pastor) wants everyone to walk in and have their jaw drop. It’s a great place. You’re going to be ‘wowed.’”

Next week, parishioners will see the fruits of their work in the new $6.7 million church adorned with chapels, stained glass, statues, a baptismal font and a golden tabernacle in more than twice the space previously used for Masses.

“I’m finding they can’t wait to get in,” said pastor Father Michael Pavlakovich. “For them it means finally having a place that they can be absolutely proud of and have ownership of because it’s from their blood, sweat and tears.”

The Light of the World community will celebrate its new church with Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who will lead a dedication ceremony Jan. 25.

For 36 years, the Littleton community has celebrated Mass without a church. When Father Pavlakovich arrived nine years ago, he decided to start a parish renewal focused on the Gospel and Catholic tradition.

“Every aspect of parish life was so directed that we focused in on the values of the Gospel and the traditions of the Catholic Church so as to better understand our identity as Catholics,” he said. “What flowed out of that is more people got attracted to the parish and more of the kinds of things we wanted to do.”

One of those things was to expand parish ministries. The parish of 3,000 households gave more than $100,000 to the needy, donated food, prepared more than 700 baskets for families at Thanksgiving and gave 1,000 gifts at Christmas, among others.

Growing ministries meant finding more space.

“In order to do that we knew we needed more space. (And) we needed to focus on a central place designated for worship. We needed to have a church,” Father Pavlakovich said.

Parishioners stepped up to make a new church a reality. In October 2009 the parish paid off its debt and in January 2010 started to raise funds for a church. Donations ranged from $100,000 to $5 a month—parishioners gave what they could to make their dreams a reality.

“We started the process for a three-year fundraiser and basically had half the money earlier than we anticipated,” he said.

Builders broke ground in January 2014. With the help of Connolly, owner of the project management company InLine Management in Golden, contractors and designers made a space that depicted Catholic values.

“We wanted to fulfill the parishioners’ desire to have a permanent dedicated worship space that’s worthy of the archdiocese and of Catholic doctrine,” he said.

Eidos Architects of Greenwood Village and Haselden Construction of Centennial blended contemporary architecture with a traditional octagonal sanctuary. The church is flooded with light from overhead skylights and stained glass windows of Christ—the Light of the World—and angels.

Painted Stations of the Cross line the church and extra space was made for praying in two devotional coves dedicated to the values of life and charity. Statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Anthony, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Katharine Drexel are displayed in the coves.

Space was also added for a choir, a cry room and extended narthex. The church can accommodate 1,400 faithful at a time up from 650 people in the multipurpose room, which will now be used for ministry work and social functions.

Father Pavlakovich credits the new church to the start of a perpetual adoration chapel and a dedication to Mary.

“Every time there’s been a Marian feast, something major has happened with this. It’s been amazing,” he said. “Either things like a big donation came in or something was completed or dates given for when (we could) move in.”

The parish is the first in 2015 to finish construction of a new church, and one of 24 in the last 20 years that was rebuilt or remodeled. The Archdiocese of Denver has 123 parishes.

Parishioners’ investment in the new worship space is a sign of growing faith, the pastor said: “When you build something to glorify the Lord, (it) seems to lift everybody.”


Light of the World Church dedication
When: 11:30 a.m. Jan. 25
Where: 10316 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton


Light of the World Church
1,400 capacity, up from 650
2 devotional coves
1 adoration chapel
100-year-old German crucifix
10 statues
14 painted Stations of the Cross


COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.

Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.