Though round-the-clock prayer hasn’t even started in the new perpetual adoration chapel at St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland, the parish began seeing fruits of 24/7 eucharistic devotion once they committed to the planning and construction process about three years ago.
“Since we committed to building this new home for Lord, great things have been happening here,” Father Francisco (Frank) Garcia, pastor, said of the parish’s decision to build a permanent home to hold vigil with the exposed Blessed Sacrament. In the past, weekday eucharistic adoration has taken place in a temporary chapel in the church’s cry room, for about 12 hours each day.
“We’ve seen the graces our Lord sends through perpetual adoration,” said parishioner Doris Armijo, wife of Deacon Ed Armijo, specifically as revealed through a marked increase in vocations.
Vocational calls answered by parishioners the last couple of years include: four men now studying for the permanent diaconate program at St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons in Denver, two more are in formation for the priesthood: one at Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and one at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., one parishioner entered the novitiate with the Sisters of St. Rita of Racine, Wis., and another young woman is serving as a missionary in Ecuador with Family Missions Company.
“(Adoration) has transformed the parish,” she said.
Chapel planning and construction
The Armijos are just one of the parish’s some 2,000 families that have envisioned adding a chapel to the 44-year old church at 1730 W. 12th St. for many years. Inception and development started more than a decade ago when Father Joseph Hartmann was pastor.
“We’re indebted to Father Hartmann for planting the seeds for a chapel,” said Father García. However plans had to be postponed several times for financial reasons. About three years ago active planning and fundraising commenced.
“The parishioners and benefactors of St. John’s have selflessly sacrificed and given of time, talent and treasure in making the chapel a reality,” he said. Nine months after construction began last April, Our Lady of Guadalupe Perpetual Adoration Chapel was dedicated by Archbishop Samuel Aquila Dec. 22. Ongoing adoration is expected to start there in the next week or so following final detail work.
The general contractor was Himmelman Construction of Lakewood and architectural services were provided by BAS1S Architecture of Estes Park. The theology-based neoclassical design was provided by former parochial vicar, Father José María Quera, an architect in his hometown of Barcelona, Spain, for more than 20 years before entering formation for the priesthood.
“He was a gift sent to us from heaven!” Father García said of Father Quera, ordained in 2010 and now pastor of St. Mary in Rifle and mission church, Sacred Heart in Silt. “Father José María, an architect by trade, a learned student of sacred art and its theology and iconography, brought his gifts to the parish in designing the entire chapel.”
Father Quera was also involved in the design of Holy Family of Nazareth Chapel at Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary dedicated in 2009 on the campus of the John Paul II Center in south Denver.
“We have been very blessed by his expertise regarding design, development and construction,” Father García said, adding that Father Quera made the four-hour drive from Rifle several times to help with intricacies of the project. “We’re indebted to him.”
As happens at times with major projects, the community faced some unexpected challenges during construction: they had to replace a boiler, deal with a bat infestation, repair an attic destroyed by raccoons, and replace a broken sewer line.
“Despite obstacles and delays, the faithful and tenacious flock of St. John’s met the challenge and the chapel is totally paid for,” Father García happily noted. The labor of love ultimately cost about $700,000—up $290,000 from the original budget of $410,000.
The secured chapel accommodates 16 adorers seated or kneeling, plus space for two wheelchairs, and is filled with profound theological symbolism with “everything pointing to the life of Christ from his conception to his glorification.” (See the sidebar for details.)
To fill each spot for nonstop eucharistic adoration 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the parish is seeking 12 more adorers. To sign up, call Rhonda Matousek, chapel coordinator, at 970-635-5822, or the parish office at 970-635-5800.
Julie Filby: 303-715-3123; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.twitter.com/DCRegisterJulie
Theology & Symbolism: Our Lady of Guadalupe Perpetual Adoration Chapel
Provided by Father Francisco “Frank” Garcia, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland
– The chapel highlights a neoclassical design, with seven recessed pillars between eight Spanish alabaster windows that filter natural light. The number seven traditionally refers to spiritual perfection in the Bible, for example: God rested from the work of Creation on the seventh day, and other Biblical passages related the number seven include: Abraham’s seven-fold blessing, God’s seven part covenant with Israel, a seven-fold sprinkling in the temple of Jerusalem on the Mercy Seat, in the Book of Psalms seven names in titles as authors of psalms are mentioned, seven signs or miracles in the Gospel of John, seven promises made to the Churches, seven seals and trumpets in Revelation, seven parables in the 13th chapter of Matthew, seven gifts in Romans 12:6-8, seven titles of Christ in Hebrews, seven first fruits, seven miracles performed by Jesus on the Sabbath and seven sacraments. The number eight signifies super-abundance, hence it has been associated with the Resurrection, the beginning of a new order, eight were saved after the devastating flood and Noah was the eighth person who stepped out on the new earth, circumcision was to be performed on the eighth day, the first born was to be given to God on the eighth day [cf. Ex 22:29-30], the great Feast of the Tabernacles lasted eight days, the Transfiguration of Christ took place on the eighth day after the announcement of Christ’s sufferings which would take place, the resurrection of the dead is signified by the number eight and eight miracles were performed by Elijah (16, a double portion given to Elisha).
– Above the columns running along the frieze on both sides is etched sacred Scripture: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory…” [John 1:14].
– At the southern point of the chapel where the two sides of the chapel converge, is a triangular tower under which stands on a pedestal a statue of St. John the Evangelist, the parish patron.
– The chapel has been named in honor of the title of the Blessed Mother: Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. Entering the door, one immediately encounters four beautiful panes of glass with etched Castilian roses, with an effect of flowing from the tilma of St. Juan Diego, recalling the miracle of the roses. These were the kind of roses Juan Diego found on the top of the hill of Tepeyac in the dead of winter.
– To the immediate left is the door and entrance to the chapel. The chapel door was designed by Bovard Studios is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe etched into glass—she is gorgeous! Surrounding Mary’s image are seven Castilian roses representing the seven sacraments. The handle on the Guadalupe door is in the shape of a tree branch (“I am the vine, you are the branches”) signifying life. The door itself is symbolic of the Mary, Mother of God. She is the door to salvation and eternal life through her son Jesus Christ.
– Above Mary is an ocular window of a descending dove, the Holy Spirit: the moment of the Annunciation, Incarnation, the Word Made Flesh. Once the chapel door swings open, one is led into another Ark of the Covenant [cf. Ex 37:1-9]. This is also a title given to Mary: the New Ark of the Covenant.
– Looking up from the inside of the chapel from the ocular window down the entire nave of the chapel, a narrow row in gold leaf runs to the front of the chapel where the altar stands. The gold symbolizes the rays of God flowing from his spirit; from the time of the Annunciation, down the chapel aisle (the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ) then arriving at the altar where one shall gaze and adore his glorified flesh in the Blessed Sacrament.
– The altar stand is molded in the image of bark from a tree (tree of life) and rests upon three white marble triangular slabs representing the Holy Trinity. Looking from the front of the chapel, one also sees this white marble juxtaposed with the Brazilian mahogany. One truly finds him/herself inside the tabernacle of the Lord in his presence.
– From the base of the altar looking upward, a triangular tower rises whose apex reaches the heavens, also formed by alabaster windows. The entire panel gilded in gold-coloring from the base of the altar to the top of the tower symbolizes the burning bush wall.
– The monstrance rests on a tabor—as in Mount. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration of the Lord—for Jesus in his glorified flesh is placed at the top of the mountain (altar) in the monstrance. The tabor has four medallions with the symbols of the four evangelists. It has the Lamb of God underneath it and the rays of the Holy Spirit descending upon the lamb.
– The monstrance made in Poland has six medallions: on top, Jesus crowned with thorns; on the bottom, the Sorrowful Mother; to each side, two of the four evangelists.
– To each side of the altar, there are carved seraphim holding the host in their hands, with Greek letters for the name Jesus incised in the hosts, bowing down in adoration.
– Each of eight Prie Dieu double kneelers contains an image of a Jerusalem cross symbolizing bringing the Gospel to the four corners of the world.