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May 19, 2010
Picture worth a thousand words—or at least 200 men
NEW Commemorative Year for Priests clergy photo presented new challenge to photographer
By John Gleason
Anyone who’s taken a family snapshot during holidays or special events knows what a task it can be to assemble and pose a group. It can go from a cute photo opportunity to an exercise in futility—quickly. Imagine posing some 200 people.
Following the celebration of the annual Chrism Mass March 30, all deacons and priests in attendance processed out of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and assembled on the front steps to have their photograph taken with Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, following in a tradition that was more common in earlier decades. The idea for the group photo as a way to commemorate the Year for Priests came from Deacon Chuck Parker, director of the archdiocesan Office of Liturgy.
Veteran Denver Catholic Register photographer James Baca is no stranger to challenging photo ops. In his career he’s taken photos of school children at prayer, presidents and popes, ordinations and dedications—all the while making sure that everyone in the photograph may be seen and that no one has their eyes closed.
Baca admits group photos can be tough but even he faced a new obstacle for the recent clergy photo. The cathedral is located at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Logan Street. The high traffic on Colfax, one of the busiest streets in Denver, increased the degree of difficulty of getting the perfect shot of the clergy assembled on the cathedral steps.
“We stopped traffic for this one,” Baca explained. “Members of the Denver Police Department were on hand to stop traffic so we could get a clear shot. Let’s just say it was—challenging.”
To make sure the setting was as pristine as possible, Tony Schoenberger, assistant in the Office of Liturgy, washed the sidewalk with a power hose prior to the Mass.
After the Mass, with the help of Deacon Parker, Liturgy Office Associate Director John Miller and Deacon Don Schaefer, the deacons and priests were led out the front door of the cathedral and shown to their places on the steps. Using a bull horn, Baca ran up and down the sidewalk instructing the men on how they should stand and above all, emphasizing, “Don’t move!”
“I asked them to keep their hands folded and told those in back not to hide behind anyone else,” he said. “There always seems to be one who just doesn’t want their picture taken.”
After a few moments the group was assembled and posed. Intrigued, people came out of shops and restaurants to witness the event. Crossing the now strangely quiet section of Colfax Avenue, Baca climbed a ladder and, still using the bullhorn, gave final instructions.
“All right, here we go,” he told the group. “Eyes open. Ready?”
“We got it!” Baca announced triumphantly, elicting a round of applause, wide smiles and a few cheers from the group.
CLERGY PHOTO IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE
Photos of the clergy poster in the center of this issue are available for purchase through the Communications Office of the Denver Archdiocese. A photo poster costs $15. An archive quality photo is available for $35. Special orders also available. Call 303-715-3215.