Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs to celebrate 100th anniversary
William Dagendesh
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Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs to celebrate 100th anniversary

by William J. Dagendesh

COLORADO SPRINGS. A local church is preparing to celebrate a century of spiritual service to the Colorado Springs community.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which turns 100 on July 16, will hold festivities during a three-day period at 2030 W. Colorado Ave. Catholic and non-Catholic communities have been invited to participate in the gala that includes food trucks, live music, and tours of the church, its art and architecture. Approximately 500 people are expected to attend.

From 5-8 p.m. on July 15, parishioners get to enjoy a myriad of festivities that include a food truck from Craig’s Fusion Mobile Restaurant offering Venezuelan dishes. Papa Bear’z Grill Restaurant will provide familiar American foodstuff and the Wicked Good Ice Cream truck, ice cold sweet stuff.

Bishop Bill Wack, a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross who now leads the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, will preside at the Vigil Mass beginning at 5:30 p.m., July 16. Following the Mass, a new Our Lady of Sorrows sculpture on the southeast side of the church, created by Dr. Joel Ernster, will be dedicated. Our Lady of Sorrows is the patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen will be in attendance.

“The sculpture was just installed and is very beautiful,” said Volunteer Coordinator Grace Donnelly. Following the dedication, a reception will be held in the parish center gym where the All in Jazz Trio will fill the air with live feel-good jazz sounds.

Bishop James Golka will celebrate the 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Masses on Sunday, July 17. Following the 9 a.m. Mass, he will dedicate the new St. André House, a multi-purpose meeting facility with gathering space, two classrooms and handicap accessible restrooms. A reception will follow the dedication. The 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. Masses will be live-streamed on the church website, www.sacredheartcos.org.

Also, after serving the parish for nine years, Sacred Heart pastor Father Ronald Raab says goodbye on July 18 as he transfers to Austin, Texas to assume directorship of Campus Ministry at St. Edward’s University.

Few people know that Father Raab is an award-winning author. The Canadian Church Press honored him for three columns in Celebrate! magazine — “Getting Our Feet Wet” (Spring 2011); “Message in a Bottle” (Summer 2011) and “Off The Wall” (Fall 2011).

Father Raab, who was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1983, also is a visual artist who was instrumental in the illustrations that highlighted “The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All.”

“Father Ron’s claim to fame is that he learned to paint while serving as pastor at Sacred Heart. His art is featured in the church and in the weekly parish bulletin covers,” Donnelly said.

Two mission churches, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Manitou Springs and Holy Rosary Chapel in Cascade, also comprise Sacred Heart Church in Colorado Springs.

In 1888, St. Mary’s Church of Old Colorado City was a mission of the oldest church in the diocese, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Manitou Springs. On July 16, 1922, the facility was renamed Sacred Heart Parish and expanded operations.

In 1926, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate assumed care for Sacred Heart Church and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1984, when the Vicariate of Colorado Springs became a full-fledged diocese, the Congregation of Holy Cross assumed leadership of Sacred Heart Parish that included Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Holy Rosary Chapel. Father Leroy Clementich was named pastor and Father Raab associate pastor.

During this time, Sacred Heart Church underwent many changes. “Father Clem,” as he was affectionately called, and Father Raab transformed the old grade school building into the Parish Center so it could serve as an outreach of parish ministries. They hired more staff members to support the mission of the parish. Soon, Sacred Heart Church increased its size and the number of registered parishioners.

In 1992, Father Clem renovated the inside of Sacred Heart Church to better serve the community and reflect a more contemporary look. After years of minimal change, the day came for Sacred Heart Church to be restored. Father Raab returned to the parish in 2013 and helped restore the church to its former Spanish mission décor featuring new handcrafted altar furniture, baptistry and pews.

Sacred Heart Church was dedicated on May 23, 2018. A relic of St. André Bessette, the first canonized saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was placed inside the new altar.

Dealing with deteriorating buildings has been the biggest obstacle for the church to hurdle, according to Donnelly. Upon his return to the parish in 2013, Father Raab had commented that the buildings were in the same condition as when he left.

“With Father Ron’s leadership, we completed the restoration of Sacred Heart Church in 2018 to its former beauty. We also recently celebrated paying off the loan for the restoration in just four years,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly recalled the 10-month restoration period during which the mass was held in the parish center gym.

“It was trying time when a shared space had to serve many purposes: a church, a food pantry, a dining room for the Lord’s Dinner, a meeting room for Youth Ministry, and a classroom for Sunday Faith Formation. But during that time, Sacred Heart Church grew in faith and fellowship as parishioners learned how to maneuver around the ‘new’ space,” Donnelly said.

“Also, during that time the church grew with the registration of 63 new families, some of whom had never seen the inside of Sacred Heart Church at that time.”

In addition to the restoration of the church, Father Ron led the transformation of the old, deteriorating and unused rectory into the new St. André House, which would be equipped with handicap accessible restrooms, common meeting space and classrooms. He raised nearly $60,000 for the project by selling some of his artwork. The project also included repaving the parking lot and grounds beautification.

With the help of Parochial Vicar Father Randall Rentner, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Holy Rosary Chapel also have seen building renovations and improvements, Donnelly said. “All three of the churches are ensured to last for another 100 years,” Donnelly said.

In addition to offering a place of worship, the parish also serves the community through its food pantry, which is open from noon - 2 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. All are welcome to use the pantry.

Also, volunteers are needed to assist with packing and distributing food bags to neighbors. Volunteers must be registered parishioners.

“Until 2020, Sacred Heart Parish hosted the Lord’s Dinner, a weekly hot meal for our neighbors in need for almost 40 years. We also had a Catholic grade school for almost 30 years,” Donnelly said.

To learn more about the anniversary celebration, contact Donnelly at 719-633-8711, ext. 111 or email gdonnelly@sacredheartcos.org. No reservation or RSVP is required.

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