A couple of years ago, after our one and only Trip to Rome, a fellow wrote to me and asked about the apartment we’d stayed at. As things turned out, he and his family were traveling to Rome and were going to stay in the same apartment.
A couple of days ago, this same man wrote me again, asking about the famed “Pope in Shades” pic, and he also described life in his new parish in Denver. I was struck by what he’d written, and thought it worth reprinting on the blog. So with his permission:
Coming from Chicago, all I can say is the Catholic scene in Denver is incredible. Our parish is Church of the Holy Ghost, where they offer the Novus Ordo in Latin. The priests are of the Oblates of the Bl. Virgin Mary and are very young, energetic and orthodox. They offer daily Mass, followed by the Angelus, Exposition of the Bl. Sacrament, Rosary and Confession. The parish is packed with young, very friendly families. Our school, St. Vincent de Paul, is run by 4 Nashville Dominicans – the average age is about 35. My favorite scene from this winter was one of the sisters, in full habit, standing in the middle of the street during a major snowstorm directing traffic as parents dropped off their kids. A group of 4 parents started a Jeff Cavins Bible study last year and it’s grown to 20 couples. We met last Friday night – casual dinner, beer and then the videos. I couldn’t believe it. Just wonderful.
Archbishop Chaput offers Mass on Sunday at 6:30 in the Cathedral (which is a magnificent structure). However, he hears Confessions before Mass and vests in the back of the church. Sort of shows you that what he considers important. His homilies are strong, very evangelizing and very geared towards teaching the faith.
…because of the beauty of the church, the reverence of the Mass and the availability of the priests, I’m going to almost daily Mass. In fact, more than ever, I WANT to attend Mass as frequently as possible. Obviously, I’m a weak Catholic and need everything the Church can offer to bring me to Christ – smells, bells, statues, artwork, stained glass windows etc. Second, these Oblate priests are unbelievable in the Confessional. They disappear and I feel like I’m talking directly to Christ. They offer mercy, but also practical points on how to conquer sin.
…Third, the parish is very friendly. We have 5 kids (one on the way) so often my wife or I are standing in the back with one or more kids during Mass. Other people noticed we were new and introduced themselves to us. Older people often compliment us on the behavior of our kids, even when it’s not justified. It’s their way of saying, “Keep coming to Mass as a family!” After Mass, there are donuts and coffee in the basement and it’s packed with families and kids. People linger and talk.
Fourth, the church is located downtown and has a strong outreach program for the homeless. There’s a soup kitchen etc. So this shows you can combine so-called “conservative” Catholicism with vibrant Catholic social teaching.
Fifth, the church is beautiful and has a wonderful history: In the 1930s/40s, an heiress commissioned an architect to design the church in honor of her parents. She first had him travel throughout Europe to study famous churches. As a result, Holy Ghost has a mix of styles, but it rivals the most beautiful churches I’ve ever been in, including Rome. I’ve attached a picture of the altar. Finally, it’s right downtown, surrounded by a couple of encroaching skyscrapers and across the street from the federal courthouse. It offers a powerful counterpoint to what society says is important. I always pray for the soul of this heiress. Just think, her generosity in the name of her parents continues to save souls and change lives in ways she never imagined. It’s just amazing to me.
I know I sound a little too enthusiastic to be real, but I didn’t want to move to Denver. I felt like Jonah being pulled to Ninevah. I turned the job offer down twice, even though it was a much better job with much better compensation. But now I know we’re supposed to be here and it is just fabulous from a Catholic perspective, in my opinion. Not once have we gotten the daily Chicago comment, “Are those all yours?” My wife is already in a Rosary league with other moms. There are informal doctrine classes for men at our kids’ school. My boss is a practicing Catholic whose wife homeschools their six kids. I’ve met half a dozen converts – all of whom said something dramatically changed as a result of World Youth Day. It really is incredible here and I’m not one to be overly optimistic or hopeful about the Church in America. I keep telling people here that they have no idea how great it is and they just look at me like I have two heads b/c this seems so normal to them.