Growing numbers spark expansion at Our Lady of the Valley

Moira Cullings

In the 1970s, Windsor’s small community of Catholic believers gathered in an unlikely setting.

“We used to meet over a laundromat downtown,” said Father Gregg Pederson.

The community, which had been a mission of nearby parishes for several years, eventually grew large enough to build its own church.

Now, the numbers at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Parish in Windsor continue to flourish.

“We’ve had an explosion of growth,” said Father Pederson, the parish’s pastor.

Five years ago, Our Lady of the Valley had around 1,000 families. Now, it has over 1,600.

Parishioners gathered at Our Lady of the Valley in Windsor for Mass and an open house to celebrate the parish’s new additions. Photo by Jason Weinrich

Not only has Father Pederson witnessed a spike in new parishioners since he joined the parish, but he’s also noticed a greater parishioner involvement in adult small group ministries and children’s religious education.

It gives the pastor hope for his parish, but also for the entire Church.

“This past month, there’s been a lot of dark news about the Church,” said Father Pederson. “But our people are still faithful here and very vibrant.

“This is a sign of God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to him,” he continued. “It’s all for the glory of Christ and for the sake of saving souls.”

To embrace the growth and accommodate current and future parishioners, Our Lady of the Valley added an adoration chapel, two nurseries, a youth room, a parish hall with a new kitchen, 18 meeting room or classroom spaces, and new offices.

This is a sign of God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to him.”

The construction process began in 2014 when a group of parish staff met with Integration Design Group (IDG) and Adam Hermanson, principal of IDG who served as the architect for the project.

In 2015, committee members met with the town of Windsor and eventually the Archdiocese of Denver to get approval for the project. In August that year, the parish kicked off a capital campaign.

Fransen Pittman, the chosen construction team, began their work after the groundbreaking ceremony in August of 2017. The entire expansion was completed in 11 months.

“It was a pretty monumental effort,” said Mike Myshatyn, Director of Maintenance and IT at Our Lady of the Valley, who also served on the design committee and eventually took on the role of project manager for the expansion.

Archbishop Aquila celebrated Mass with Our Lady of Windsor pastor Father Gregg Pederson and other archdiocesan priests. Photo by Jason Weinrich

The team created three separate buildings or wings tied to one campus building, said Myshatyn. Now, there is a wing for the parish hall and nurseries, a wing for the classrooms and a wing for the offices.

“Each building has its own nuance,” said Myshatyn.

The updates are designed to accommodate on the needs of parishioners who will utilize them. Several of those parishioners were invited to be part of smaller subcommittees, which allowed them to be involved in decisions along the way.

“We wanted to consciously make sure that we reached out to all of the people that had a vested interest and had some insight and personal knowledge of what worked,” said Myshatyn.

“We were talking with the people that were going to end up using this stuff,” he said.

But with a steadily growing parish, the additions are not simply designed for today.

“We designed it with the future in mind,” said Myshatyn. “We really were trying to be forward looking.”

Archbishop Aquila blesses the new chapel at Our Lady of the Valley. Photo by Jason Weinrich

An example of that, he said, is that although the parish might not need 18 classrooms now, the rate of growth over the past few years suggests it will in the future — and possibly even more, which is why the classroom wing is designed with additional strength to hold a second story if it needs one.

Father Pederson attributes the parish’s development to an increased population in Windsor and surrounding towns, the parish’s worship experience and its small group ministries.

We designed it with the future in mind.”

Its bustling community can now enjoy the expansion, which they came together to see during an open house on Aug. 26 following Mass and a blessing by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

“Everyone was blown away,” said Father Pederson. “They said it’s so much more beautiful than they expected, and it’s so much bigger than they were envisioning.”

Father Pederson was grateful to be part of such a historic milestone for the parish.

“It’s a very exciting, energetic place to be,” he said.

COMING UP: Synod: Topics from the final document on young people

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After intense days of dialogue and discussion among bishops and invited young people, the Synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment came to a close in Rome on Oct. 28.

Here we offer a brief summary of the document which was approved a few days before the closing. It contains 167 points and proposals which seek to transmit the Word of God and address the needs of young people throughout the world.

The citations provided are not approved English translations of the document. The document has only been released in Italian.

Sexuality

The document states that the Church works “to communicate the beauty of the Christian vision of corporeality and sexuality.” It asks for more adequate methods to communicate it. “An anthropology of affectivity and sexuality, capable of also giving a fair value to chastity, must be proposed to young people.” To do so, “it is necessary to tend to the formation of pastoral workers, so that they may be credible [witnesses], beginning with the maturity of their own affective and sexual dimensions.”

Accompaniment

Another recommendation asks for better accompaniment to help young people “read their own story” and live out their baptismal call “freely” and “responsibly.” The document also asks for better accompaniment of people with same-sex attraction, reaffirming the “decisive anthropological relevance of the difference and reciprocity between man and woman,” and considering it “reductive” to define a person’s identity based on his or her sexual orientation.

Women

The difference between men and women can be a realm “in which many forms of dominion, inclusion and discrimination can emerge,” elements the Church must free itself from, the document says. It says that among the youth, there is a desire for a “greater acknowledgment and valuing” of women in the Church and society. Furthermore, it says that the absence of the feminine voice and outlook “impoverishes” debate and the path of the Church, robbing it of a “beautiful contribution.”

Vocation

The final synodal document calls for a “true and specific vocational culture” and a “constant prayer commitment” for vocations. It affirms that the mission of many consecrated men and women who give of themselves to those in the peripheries of the world “manifests concretely the dedication of an outward Church.”

It highlights that the Church has always had a particular care for vocations to the priestly order, knowing that it is a “constituent element of her identity and necessary for the Christian life.” Moreover, the Synod acknowledges the condition of the single life, which, assumed with a logic of faith and self-gift, can lead to paths through which “the grace of baptism acts and directs toward that holiness we are all called to.”

“The Eucharistic celebration generates the communal life of the Church. It is the place for transmission of the faith and formation for mission,” the document states. Young people have shown “to appreciate and live with intensity authentic celebrations in which the beauty of the signs, the care for preaching and the communal involvement truly speak of God.”

It encourages that young people discover “the value of Eucharistic adoration as an extension of the celebration, in which contemplation and silent prayer can be lived out.”

Migration

The document expresses the Church’s preoccupation regarding those who “escape war, violence, political and religious persecutions, natural disasters … and extreme poverty.” In general, immigrants leave their countries in search of “opportunities for themselves and for their families” and are exposed to violence on their journey. Many leave with an idealized version of Western culture, “at times feeding it with unrealistic expectations that expose them to hard disappointments.”

The synodal fathers highlight the particular vulnerability of “unaccompanied migrant minors” and see that “it is necessary to decisively reject” a xenophobic mentality regarding migration events “frequently promoted and exploited for political ends.”

Featured image by L’Osservatore Romano