Archbishop's web site Denver Catholic Register Parishes Catholic Pastoral Center
November 8 , 2000
Archbishop presides at dedication
By Peter Droege
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., presided at the Dedication Mass and Blessing of the expansion of the St. Thomas More Evangelization Center, Oct. 29, in Englewood.
The $6.7 million expansion allows the St. Thomas More Evangelization Center to offer three sessions of kindergarten through eighth grade, and provides facilities for a thriving religious education program serving more than 1,500 students.
"It takes a huge commitment of energy and resources to complete the goal you set out to accomplish," the archbishop said during remarks at the conclusion of the Mass. "St. Thomas More Parish has the reputation of not letting anything stand in the way when something needs to be done thank you for that," he told the more than 1,400 people gathered for the joyful celebration.
Seven priests concelebrated the Mass, including Father Andrew Kemberling, administrator; Father John McGinn, Father Joseph O'Malley, Father David Sobieszczyk, Father James Spahn, Father Michael Walsh and Jesuit Father Martin Whealen. The deacons included Rev. Mr. Gary Rogge, Rev. Mr. Steven Stemper, and Rev. Mr. Mark Salvato, who served as master of ceremonies.
Music for the beautiful Liturgy was provided by the St. Thomas More combined choir, under the direction of Leo Frazier.
"When stewardship permeates a parish, great things happen," Father Kemberling told the Register. "All that has been accomplished here is the result of people living their lives in a new way as a result of the spirituality of stewardship," he added.
Father Kemberling is the former pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in Boulder. He was assigned to St. Thomas More at the beginning of the summer.
"Those who have worked so hard to accomplish what we have, have moved on, but we get to enjoy the fruit of their labor," he continued. "We appreciate the hard work of Father Fred McCallin (the founding pastor) and Father Michael Walsh (now pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish).
"Their dedication and hard work is paying off especially now," he continued. "Without their efforts, we would not be where we are today."
At the conclusion of the Mass, the assembly moved to the entrance of the Evangelization Center. The giant crowd was greeted by music provided by a choir of students wearing the school's bright red colors.
After a brief ceremony, Archbishop Chaput walked through the school and blessed the rooms, including the giant gymnasium, with holy water. He was led by Kelvin Doss, a member of the building committee.
Following the blessing ceremony, the crowd was welcomed into the gymnasium for a reception.
Students began using the new wing on the first day of school, Aug. 28. The Evangelization Center includes separate facilities for the middle school and the elementary school.
"It's a great addition," says Paul Mott, principal. "We are truly thankful to Father Kemberling and the people in the parish for supporting this effort and making it happen," he added.
Mott adds that the addition reflects the centrality of the Catholic faith in the mission of the school.
"Religious art is displayed in the hallways and classrooms and alcoves are designed to contain statues that remind us of our faith," he said.
In addition to the state-of-the-art classrooms that include many hi-tech features allowing students access to computers, the school includes a giant gymnasium that dwarfs those in many high schools.
"The gym is great, and is used by a number of groups and schools," explained Mott, who credits assistant principals, Debbie Roberts and Barb Markulik, for their work in the school.
The beauty of the Evangelization Center is that it also serves as a center of religious education for children and adults.
Jere Allen, director of religious education at St. Thomas More, said the department's mission statement guides all the activities at the Center. The statement is prominently displayed at the entrance of the facility.
The statement reads: "St. Thomas More religious education department believes our primary mission is to proclaim and teach the Good News of Jesus Christ as found in Sacred Scripture and the sacred tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. We believe in encouraging the faith life of all individuals within our community. The purpose of catechesis is to make a person's faith become living, conscious and active through the light of instruction, which is a lifelong process."
Through innovative programs that place the responsibility for a child's religious instruction on the parents, who are called to be their primary educators, the religious education department is transforming the lives of both students and parents, according to Allen.
"The program is designed to help parents work with their children at home," she explained. "Once a month, parents and children gather at St. Francis Hall, named after Colorado's new patron saint, and receive instruction and updates," she added.
In addition to the religious education program, Allen and her six-person staff oversee a variety of programs designed to help adults grow in their faith.
A collection of photographs at St. Thomas More Church offers a glimpse of the many vocations to the diaconate, priesthood and religious life that have been fostered at the parish over the years. It is one of the many signs of how the Catholic faith is embraced and proclaimed in the parish.