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St. John Paul the Great: Introducing Denver’s newest Catholic classical high school; open house Oct. 30

Nearly 30 years have passed since Pope John Paul II arrived in Denver and in a prophetic word, destined it to be the center of the New Evangelization. Among the many fruits of World Youth Day, the Archdiocese of Denver now welcomes its latest — St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School. 

The new high school is Catholic, independent and co-ed. Its classically inspired curriculum will be academically rigorous, especially in the areas of math and science. A robust sports program will accompany formation in the fine arts, adventure in the backcountry, and future opportunities for pilgrimage.

Located adjacent to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, the high school has been established in Denver’s old Rosedale Elementary School. Renovations are underway, with Phase I construction to be completed by the late spring. Its inaugural year, 2022-2023, will welcome ninth and tenth grade students, until the school reaches its capacity of grades 9-12 at 440 students. The school is, of course, open to all students and their families throughout Denver and surrounding areas.

But is another Catholic high school really necessary? The John Paul the Great team believes so. Ideological forces have radically altered the present state of education — and a new response of robust Catholicity is required. Furthermore, young families have repeated the same request: a formation in Catholic orthodoxy that, while being resilient and uncompromising, is at the same time joyful, Marian and mission-oriented. For this purpose, John Paul the Great recommits to the central work of human formation — the presupposition of true orthodoxy — the fruit of which is always a culture of joy. Hearing the call of Archbishop Aquila to move from the maintenance of Christendom and into apostolic mission, this new high school is, in many respects, the first-born institution of his apostolic mandate. 

St. John Paul the Great will be located in the Rosedale Neighborhood in Denver, adjacent to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. The vacant Rosedale High School is being renovated and will serve as St. John Paul the Great’s main campus. (Photo provided)

“Given the great mission that parents have in raising up saints,” says Rosemary Vander Weele, principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and board member to the high school, “St. John Paul the Great exists to support families in offering a high school experience full of joy that will form young men and women who will bring the truth of Christ to the culture.”

St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School was born from the prayer and dialogue of a community of educators, priests, and benefactors. Specifically, the vision of the school has been developed by leaders in classical education in close collaboration with members of the Companions of Christ. The latter, a community of diocesan priests founded in Denver in 2007, desire to serve not just as sacramental chaplains but as teachers in the classroom and fathers to the community. Through their shared mission, they contribute in a unique way to the evangelization of the students and the cultivation of vocations.  

Pope John Paul II’s vision of holiness captivated the world because it was authentically human. This new high school exists to offer young people the human experience of life in Christ, patterned after our great model and patron. When education is centered on the Incarnation, then the project of human formation becomes the decisive task for a vibrant orthodoxy in a post-Christian age. 

It is to this vision — and all the practical questions that accompany it — that all are invited to learn more by attending our upcoming Open House on Oct. 30 at 1:30 p.m., in the gym of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School (2256 S. Logan Street, Denver). For more information or to register for the event, visit jpthegreatdenver.org. 

Father John Nepil
Father John Nepil is a Formation Advisor and Assistant Professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. He also serves on the board of St. John Paul the Great High School.
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