Hard-working parish raises funds for $1.3 million expansion

The community of Ascension Parish saw the fruits of hard work and fundraising last month when an improvement to its church was completed.

The Denver parishioners held festivals, car raffles and bake sales to fund a $1.3 million expansion and improvement project needed in their flourishing church in the Montbello neighborhood.

“It was crowded during Sunday Masses. We needed more space,” said pastor Father Gerardo Puga. “Now we have some room and parishioners can see their effort bore fruit.”

The parish needed little assistance from the Denver Archdiocese to supplement their funds to add 2,400 square feet of space.

The addition includes extra room for pews in the church, classrooms for Sunday school, a sound system and a brick and stained glass façade.

“Prior to the addition, you may have driven by it without knowing it was a church,” said Walt Wostenberg, construction manager for the Denver Archdiocese. “It looks like a church now. People are very happy about that.”

The pastor decided improvements were needed to the church that celebrates six Masses on Sundays and two anticipated Masses Saturdays, almost all in Spanish.

Parishioners, made up mostly of Hispanics, have pride in their church and readily volunteered to raise money, said parish secretary Ana Griselda.

“They’re very hard working. They like to help out a lot,” she said.

In April, a contract was signed with Krische Construction of Longmont and Integration Design Group of Henderson oversaw the architectural plans.

Construction was finalized in October and repair men made final adjustments in November.

A couple of parishioners came to pray at the revitalized parish.

“Now it’s presentable and it looks beautiful,” said Ester Watso, a parishioner for 23 years. “God’s spirit is here.”

She said Masses were often crowded, but the expansion enabled more room and more activities.

Theresa Duru said she often attends weekday Mass.

“I was very impressed,” she said. “Everyone is very friendly and it’s all come together.”

Father Puga has ambition to complete future phases of construction including adding a eucharistic adoration chapel and an expansion of the sanctuary.

“Our parishioners do their best for the community and they do that because their faith is in God,” he said. “They want to do the best for the Church.”


By the Numbers: Ascension construction
$1.3 million project
2,400 added square feet
Originally built in 1971

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash