What better occasion to celebrate than a massive trifecta of anniversaries?
Notre Dame Parish in southwest Denver and its priests celebrate milestone anniversaries this year: the parish is celebrating 65 years, while Msgr. Ed Buelt, Notre Dame’s pastor, and Father John Therese Creus, CSJ, the parish’s parochial vicar, both celebrate 40 years and 20 years of priesthood, respectively.
To mark the occasion, the parish community gathered for Mass and a celebration complete with dinner, music, and fellowship. The next morning, Archbishop Aquila joined the community in their celebrations at the regular 9 a.m. Mass. “Our 65th anniversary celebrations were a huge success,” said Msgr. Ed Buelt, the pastor of Notre Dame Parish. “Our next big item is a ‘Cinema on the Green,’ then a Called and Gifted workshop and a ministry and stewardship fair. After that, we have an evangelization door-to-door campaign. Then the redevelopment of the Pietà plaza which should be completed by Easter of next year. There’s a lot of renewal and renovation that’s on our radar, in our planning, and that we’re going to engage to rebuild the community.”
The parish, founded on the corner of S. Sheridan Boulevard and W. Evans Ave in 1957, was once known as a “shining light on a hill,” said Msgr. Buelt, “especially in view of its service to the poor, the troubled, and to families and children. It was stellar in its welcoming of the Vietnamese who were being exiled or leaving Vietnam and moving to Denver. It was stellar in its care for the handicapped. And there were ministries to children and families, especially in the large school that at one point was filled with over 500 students.”
Over the years, however, the Bear Creek and Harvey Park neighborhoods of Denver were skipped over for needed economic developments which are just now coming to the area, with multiple multi-use developments apparently in the works.
With these developments coming, the neighborhood changing, and a world rocked by the COVID pandemic, Notre Dame Parish is discerning its mission for the next 65 years. “We must become even more a welcoming parish,” Msgr. Buelt told the Denver Catholic, “even more a parish of the Word and therefore of discipleship of He who is the Word, Jesus Christ, and in a particular way to continue and increase our ministry to the poor.”
Coupled with the pastor’s parish’s 65th anniversary is his own 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Reflecting on the past four decades, Msgr. Buelt said, “It’s an extraordinarily beautiful vocation. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise that ‘he who gives up mother, father, sister, brother for my sake and the sake of the Gospel will receive a hundred-fold mothers, sisters, brothers in this life and in the next.’ It really is a vocation that can be filled with joy, meaning, and success for the sake of the Gospel.”
“God has blessed me with great joy at being the pastor here at Notre Dame these past 6 years,” Monsignor continued, “and the struggles which I’ve encountered as pastor are the same struggles that every pastor encounters at every parish in this day and age. But they have brought with them, on the other side of those struggles, a real resurrection. I look forward, for however long it is mine to be pastor here, to continuing to lead the people in prayer, community, and service to the poor.”
Happy anniversary, Notre Dame Parish, Msgr. Buelt, and Father John Therese!