By William J. Dagendesh
On Aug. 27, Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield celebrated their 25th anniversary as a parish.
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver, celebrated the milestone with a Mass. A parish picnic followed the celebration.
According to pastor Father David Bluejacket, the founding of the parish dates back to the early 1990s when several individuals, residing in what is now Foxfield, met for prayer and to discuss establishing a parish to serve the broader south-central Arapahoe County area.
“They approached then Archbishop J. Francis Stafford and proposed the founding of a Catholic parish near Arapahoe and Parker Road,” Father Bluejacket said. “Archbishop Stafford responded favorably to their initiative and approved the search for property. After World Youth Day in 1993, the pursuit of a parish site began and a 20-acre location was found on the southwest corner of Arapahoe and Waco Street. Ten acres of the property were purchased in fall 1995 as the home for the new parish.”
A few years later, then Archbishop Charles Chaput invited Msgr. Ed Buelt to serve as the founding pastor of the new Foxfield parish named, OLOL. On Easter Tuesday, April 14, 1998, Msgr. Ed assumed pastorship and celebrated the first Mass for the community.
Soon after, the first of four major capital campaigns began to raise funds for a church and parish offices, and later for the remainder of campus buildings.
“On May 13, 2003, the new church was consecrated, and both the parish office and the Chapel of the Word opened upstairs. In 2011, the St. Joseph Ministry Center was completed which included classrooms and Holy Family Hall,” Father Bluejacket said.
Our Lady of Loreto Catholic School opened in August 2013 with one round of classrooms for 5th grade and younger. The west wing of the building was finished in early 2017. The school houses school administrative offices, more classrooms, a music room and gym. Today, the school has blossomed to more than 470 students in pre-school through 8th grade.
Throughout its history, Our Lady of Loreto has produced numerous vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life, and has developed highly regarded children and adult faith formation programs. Also, it has seen varied groups come into being and thrive, and has ministered to the poor in a spirit of compassion and generosity.
On May 13, 2023, the parish celebrated the 20th anniversary of the dedication of its parish church with a reception that included church tours. In November, a special reception will be held for volunteers advancing the legacy of founding parishioners with their own investment in the life, mission and worship of the parish.
“To memorialize our 25th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the church dedication, we will be completing the back sanctuary area,” Father Bluejacket said.
Loreto refers to the Holy House of Loreto, the house in which Mary was born and where the angel Gabriel appeared to her at the Annunciation. The shrine of Our Lady of Loreto is located on the Adriatic coast of Italy, about three hours from Rome and is the third largest shrine to Mary in Europe.
The House of Mary inside the Basilica Della Santa Casa in Loreto, Italy inspired the Tabernacle area design. According to legend, this holy house, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born and raised in Nazareth and where the annunciation occurred, was brought to Italy by angels in the late-13th century.
The house is constructed of materials which have been tested and found to be indigenous of the Holy Land, and not of Italy. “The main arch over the Tabernacle is intended to draw more attention to the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle while the side arches are intended to show the common bond and unity between Jesus and His blessed mother,” Father Bluejacket said.
“This project is set to begin in January 2024 and be completed by Easter 2024, funded by private donations. To honor the school’s 10th anniversary, the parish is building a multi-purpose athletic field tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of the year.”
Father Bluejacket said the parish has a rich history of generating and supporting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. Four men from the parish have been ordained to the priesthood and another will be ordained next year.
“There have been eight men ordained to the permanent diaconate (and six men are currently in the application process). We have three women religious with four other women currently in formation,” Father Bluejacket said.
According to Msgr. Buelt, a priest who grew up in the parish has a dad who is a deacon there. “Father Matt Magee, son of Deacon Michael Magee, was the first holy communicant at OLOL and its second priestly vocation,” Msgr. Buelt said.
Msgr. Buelt credits charism, or “favor” or “gratuitous gifts” for the uniqueness Our Lady of Loreto enjoys.
“The charism of Our Lady of Loreto is, as the Blessed Virgin Mary, to treasure everything regarding Jesus in its heart, more specifically, as Mary, to conceive the Word of God in our hearts, to conceive the Word of God in our lives, and give birth to the Word of God in all our relationships, indeed in the whole world,” Msgr. Buelt said.
“In accord with its charism, the ministries that are at the foundation of all other ministries are those which study and engage the Word of God, the Scriptures, since, as the Scriptures themselves teach us, God ‘renews all things by the power of his word’ (Heb 1:3).”
Father Bluejacket said the continued presence of many of its founding parishioners is one of the great blessings of the parish. Their vision, sacrifice and generosity not only provided for the campus with its buildings, but also formed its identity and mission as a community.
“With their presence, they provide historical background and context, Father Bluejacket said. “Their investment in the parish and love for the parish is like a baton that is being handed on to the next generation. We not only benefit from their legacy, but we are inspired by them to carry it on and build upon it.”