Parish musicians honored for glorifying God

Two local musicians to receive St. Cecilia Awards

Two exemplary musicians who spent years glorifying God through song and tunes will be recognized at the annual St. Cecilia Day Awards ceremony, sponsored by the Office of Liturgy’s Archdiocesan Music Committee.

This is the first year the event will consist of a luncheon for musicians across the Denver Archdiocese. It will be held at Regis University on Nov. 23. All are invited to fellowship with the musically-inclined followed by lunch, a blessing and presentation of the St. Cecilia Awards.

Honorees will be given a framed psalm, the same one recited on St. Cecilia’s feast day, Nov. 22. The saint is the patron of musicians.

This year’s honorees are J. Douglas Wree of St. Joseph Parish in Fort Collins and Marian Jugert of Holy Name Parish in Englewood.


J. Douglas Wree

Since he was 10 years old, J. Douglas Wree has strived to worship Christ through his musical talent, and to do it with great joy.J. Douglas Wree

“Showing enthusiasm and smiling while you sing shows people the Mass means a great deal to you—it’s not only how the music sounds but how you present it,” said 77-year-old Wree. “Even a piano sounds different if the player is smiling. That’s always been important to me.”

With his bass voice and guitar, Wree has sung in choirs and played with bands. He cantored at Baptist services before he converted to Catholicism at 21-years-old. He later became the first music minister at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial when the church was founded. From 1969 to 1975, he provided music for the Saturday night Mass.

“I was on the board and offered to run the program until the pastor decided to do something permanent,” he said.

He moved with his wife, Barbara, to St. Joseph Parish in Fort Collins where he’s participated in music ministry since 1975. In 1985, he became the head cantor and scheduler at the parish. Wree also shared his talent at weddings and funerals and with his wife at nursing homes and prisons. One of his favorite performances was singing with a choir at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in France.

He retired as president and owner of PestRITE, a pest control company, but was called out of retirement in 2008 to serve as the parish’s full-time volunteer music director. But in 2011, a battle with leukemia left him nearly deaf.

Wree said he’s since recovered some hearing, but has concluded his music career.

“Music gives a heart and soul to the liturgy and makes it come alive,” Wree said. “It has affected my faith enormously.”


Marian Jugert

Marian Jugert of Holy Name Parish in Englewood spent nearly 70 years sharing her musical talent with the Church.

As a child at Holy Rosary Parish in Denver, a Dominican nun taught her to play the organ. The pastor allowed her to practice every day in the church. Her practice paid off when she began to play at Masses regularly by the time she was in the eighth grade. She later performed at Cure d’Ars Parish in Denver for eight years before she was hired as the organist at All Saints Parish in Denver.Marian Jugert

Jugert returned to Holy Name and served as the organist since 1978.

Due to health conditions, she retired from music ministry and from work in the Denver Public School system.

Her love for music continues as seen in her recent excitement over Holy Name Parish’s announcement of its new organ. She said, “Oh, I would love to get my hands on that keyboard.”

Because of her health, Jugert was presented the St. Cecilia award Nov. 13. John Miller, the archdiocese’s associate director of the Office of Liturgy, said she was very appreciative of the award and never imagined she would win it.


St. Cecilia Day
Spend a day with fellow musicians and participate in a roundtable discussion, music rehearsal and lunch. There will be a blessing and presentation of the St. Cecilia Awards.

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 23
Where: St. John Francis Regis Chapel, 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver
Cost: free
Details: call 303-715-3156 or email

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.