After Barbara Finnegan and her friend traveled across the Front Range to visit some of the most notable sacred art and architecture spots, she felt like a member of the community.
Finnegan, 74, and Patty O’Keefe, 74, of St. Thomas More Church in Centennial still felt like transplants from other states until they completed the Denver Catholic Register’s summer Art and Architecture Walk.
“Once you start visiting other (parishes), it’s not just, ‘I’m at St. Thomas More (Church), but ‘I’m a member of this community of churches in this archdiocese.’”
The Illinois-native said “you take ownership” of a Catholic community once it’s participated in and explored.
“It has been a wonderful and great summer activity for us,” she shared. “The whole thing was a great experience.”
The Register invited faithful at the beginning of the summer to visit seven sites of exquisite beauty and stunning art among churches and sacred spots in the Archdiocese of Denver. They were also invited to search for answers to trivia questions and take photos at each of the sites: the adoration chapel at St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland, icons in Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Church, St. Catherine of Siena Church, stained glass windows at Annunciation Church, Chapel on the Rock in Allenspark, the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and St. Peter Church in Greeley.
Pastors at the church sites reported receiving calls and visitors throughout the summer from interested faithful.
Father Michael O’Loughlin, pastor at Holy Protection, said he received several calls and gave tours of his church.
“That was one of the best experiences ever,” Finnegan said.
She said they arrived in the middle of Divine Liturgy (or Mass) and Father O’Loughlin stopped to inform them of the proper way to receive communion in the Eastern Catholic church.
“After Mass, he took his vestments off and he must have spent 20 minutes talking with us, telling us some of the differences,” she said about the traditions between Latin-rite and Byzantine-rite churches.
“It was such a nice warm visit. We definitely want to go back there,” she said.
The friends’ first visit was to see the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Although frequently locked, a parish staff member was usually on site to let the two ladies into the church.
“Every single person we ran into, we were greeted,” she shared. “They were so gracious and so excited to be showing their churches.”
At St. Catherine of Siena Church, she said parish staff took them downstairs to its adoration chapel.
Pastor Father Gregoire Vidal said it’s not unusual for visitors to come and take photos at the historic church, which features a unique rose window depicting St. Catherine.
Finnegan said she and O’Keefe plan to continue to visit parishes to attend liturgies and view their art and architecture.
“The whole thing was a great experience,” Finnegan said.
Find Answers to the Art & Architecture Walk below
Adoration chapel at St. John the Evangelist Church Visitor question: In the foyer of the chapel is a copper water font engraved with five symbols of the faith. What are these symbols?
Answer: Water, dove, fish, flames of fire and the cross.
Icons in Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Church Visitor question: What Biblical event is depicted in the icon located in the arch above the altar?
Answer: The Last Supper
St. Catherine of Siena Church Visitor question: Whose image is depicted in the rose window that faces Federal Boulevard?
Answer: St. Catherine (as protectoress of Rome)
Stained glass windows at Annunciation Church Visitor question: Which stained glass window depicting Christ required repair after it was vandalized?
Answer: Sacred Heart of Jesus
Chapel on the Rock Visitor question: Who is depicted on the two medallions that hang on either side of the stone walls inside the chapel?
Answer: The Madonna and Child, and two angels
Grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Visitor question: What saint statue is depicted kneeling before Mary inside the grotto?
Answer: St. Bernadette
Visitor question: When was the cornerstone of the church laid?