Bishop Conley dedicates new church in Windsor
$4.5 million Our Lady of the Valley Church first for rural community
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Certainly, this cannot be real.
Longtime parishioners, and the hundreds who attended the Our Lady of the Valley dedication Sept. 28 in Windsor, Colo., could hardly contain their joy and amazement over their new church.
“I think we’re all in a state of shock,” said Patty Pike, who became a parishioner with her husband, Joe, in the late ‘60s. “It’s kind of unreal. We’ve been working on a church since the day we moved here. We’ve been at some odd stops: homes, store fronts, businesses. ... Now it’s a church, finally.”
After decades of worshipping in houses, a dry cleaning business, a carpet store and a tiny Baptist church, parishioners gathered to celebrate the finished 20,000-square-foot Catholic church they can call their own.
Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator for the Archdiocese of Denver, was the main celebrant of the Mass and rite of dedication. Father James Spahn, Our Lady of the Valley pastor, was a concelebrant of the Mass that drew a standing-room-only congregation that evening.
Parishioners raised about $4.5 million to build the church needed for their growing membership, which rose from 450 families in 2002 to more than 1,000 families this year, Father Spahn said.
The dedication Mass was particularly special for parishioners who raised funds despite the economic downturn and devastation from the tornado that hit Windsor in 2008.
“It just shows that if a parish has a vision and goal that they can do amazing things,” Father Spahn said. “It’s a very exciting time for us.”
BCDM Architects of Omaha, Neb., designed the church that features cathedral-like ceiling heights, stained glass windows and hand-carved cherry wood furniture made by the Knights of Columbus. Starting in November 2010, McCauley Constructors of Windsor began building the new church set on archdiocesan property on the south side of town.
Every part of the new church was blessed during the dedication rite by Bishop Conley assisted by Father Spahn, deacons and former pastors of the parish. The ceremony began with the song, “All Are Welcome.” Then with holy water, Bishop Conley sprinkled the altar, the walls, statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Michael the Archangel, and every room of the church.
“This is what parishioners have been waiting for, for many years,” said Thomas Jones, parishioner and chairman of the building committee.
The dedication rites included a prayer of dedication, and an anointing and incensation of the altar and church.
“One of the most special moments was when Bishop Conley was rubbing the chrism and spreading it over the top of the altar,” Father Spahn said. “That was a truly a moving experience.”
The dedication was the first for Bishop Conley who said in his homily that the new church must be a place to relive the Gospel, and a place where parishioners can receive the grace of God and share his love with one another.
“This new building should be a new opportunity to all of us to have a ‘new conversion,’ to begin again in our journey of faith and love, to renew our dedication to God and to others,” Bishop Conley said. “Our time is not a time to be passive or content with a mediocre faith. It is a time to commit ourselves to know our faith better and to try to practice it to the full.”
Photo by James Baca/DCR
He asked that everyone make the parish their “spiritual family,” a place where they gather as the people of God.
“Let’s ask God, through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Valley, our Blessed Mother and Mother of the Church, for the grace to make sure that this parish will always be a real spiritual family,” Bishop Conley concluded.
A dedication is a rare occurrence, said Deacon Harold Kimble, who attended the ceremony.
“It feels so good,” Deacon Kimble said. “Just having that dedicated worship space is wonderful.”
As pastor of the church for nine years, Father Spahn said he is impressed with the sacrifices of the community in working to make the new church a reality.
“We have a church now,” Father Spahn said. “It’s one of the most beautiful churches in Colorado.”