As soon as it seemed to have begun, 2016 is coming to a close.
Though the consensus from the general population at large is decrying 2016 as the “worst year ever,” it would appear that the opposite is true when it comes to the Catholic community in Denver. This Jubilee Year of Mercy was also one of grace.
From the outpouring of prayer that occurred throughout the year, to the overflowing grace at the first-ever Sealed & Sent, the presence of the Holy Spirit descended upon the archdiocese in spades in 2016.
It wasn’t all good, however; one of the archdiocese’s beloved pastors passed away, and though a hard battle was fought, Proposition 106 passed, legalizing physician-assisted suicide in Colorado.
Even so, our hope and strength is found in the Lord, and he remains faithful. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the year. It was certainly one to remember.
The inaugural Sealed & Sent happened May 7 at the Denver Coliseum, filling the stands of the stadium with families and confirmandi representing 15 different parishes of the archdiocese. The event was organized in response to Archbishop Aquila’s Restored Order initiative launched in 2015, and as a result, over 500 candidates were confirmed at the largest confirmation Mass the Archdiocese of Denver had ever seen. (Photo by Andrew Wright)
World Youth Day (WYD) took place in Krakow, Poland, from July 25-31, and the Archdiocese of Denver was well-represented, with upwards of 800 pilgrims attending. The theme for this year’s WYD was taken from the Gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). During the closing Mass, Pope Francis reminded the young people who represented the global Catholic community: “No one is insignificant. [God] loves all of us with a special love; for him, all of us are important. You are important.” It was also announced that the next WYD would take place in Panama in 2019. (Photo by Fabio Beretta | World Youth Day Krakow 2016 via Flickr)
The life of St. Joseph’s pastor Father Steven Voss was celebrated Sept. 16 during his funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Father Voss died Sept. 10 after a lifelong bout with cancer. It was sad news to have to bear, but solace was found in the fact that Father Voss touched the lives of countless people during his ministry as a priest; not only because he was eager to remind them how great the love of Christ is, but also because he could genuinely empathize with others encountering struggles in their own lives. “Nothing ever held him back. He was bigger than life,” said Father Voss’ sister Christine of her brother. (Photo by Andrew Wright)
“You belong to the Father,” Archbishop Aquila told Denver’s new Auxiliary Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez during his ordination Mass Nov. 4. After faithfully serving the Archdiocese of Denver for 10 years, Pope Francis announced Aug. 25 that Father Jorge Rodriguez, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Thronton, would be appointed the next auxiliary bishop of Denver. As the former vice rector of St. John Vianney Seminary, Bishop Rodriguez already had a reputation as a beloved priest in the archdiocese, and he accepted his new post with humility and grace. He expressed his gratitude to the congregation at his ordination, saying, “I love you all. You cannot imagine how important you’ve been in my life. The most important gift I have received are the people in the pews.” (Photo by Andrew Wright)
Pope Francis declared 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy, and as part of it, Holy Doors were designated at several parishes around the archdiocese, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Faithful were encouraged to make a pilgrimage to each Holy Door to receive a plenary indulgence, and the archdiocese hosted several Year of Mercy-themed events that were spiritually enriching for those who attended. (Photo by Andrew Wright)
On March 5, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila led some 1,800 faithful from the archdiocese in a Eucharistic Procession around the Planned Parenthood facility in Stapleton. The goal? To pray for those women who were considering an abortion or who had already one, and for an upholding of the dignity of all life, which begins at conception. It was a powerful witness of Christian love, and managed to become the featured image associated with the location on Google maps. (Photo by Andrew Wright)
Sister Damascene thanks congregants and others during a Mass celebrating the feast day of St. Teresa of Calcutta at St. Joseph’s Parish on Sept. 5, 2016. “She was diminutive in physical stature, she was a giant in her firmness and her vision of life,” Cardinal J. Francis Stafford recalled of Mother, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who was officially canonized as a saint Sept. 4. Her canonization served as an opportunity for many to fondly reminisce on her historic visit to Denver in 1989, when she gifted the archdiocese with her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity. “Mother Church has given us Teresa of Calcutta now,” Cardinal Stafford said of her canonization. “A woman who lived in darkness, but lived in that darkness with the light of faith. She’s a model for us, not simply for the darkness, but for the joy.” (Photo by Andrew Wright) Social media post of the year:
This simple public service announcement from the Denver Catholic, posted on the eve of the presidential election, totally blew up on Facebook. It was the highest-engaged Facebook post we’ve ever had, garnering a total of 493 likes and 1,755 shares!