Our Lady of Mout Carmel Church in Littleton marks 10th year
By Julie Filby
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Last month marked 10 years since the dedication of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Littleton. On Oct. 8 parishioners gathered for a Mass of thanksgiving at Christ the King Chapel at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
The Mass was celebrated by parochial vicar Father Joseph Hearty, F.S.S.P. Father James Jackson, F.S.S.P., serves as the parish’s pastor. Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebrates Mass using the extraordinary form of the Roman rite: in Latin, with the priest and parishioners facing the same direction toward the altar.
“The Latin Mass is a very strong draw for most of our parishioners,” said founding member Jodi Lacroix. “It’s very special to us.”
The church at 5612 S. Hickory St., originally St. Timothy Episcopal Church, was dedicated by former Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., on Sept. 22, 2001. A Denver Catholic Register story described the event as a “joyous occasion for the Latin Mass congregation—the start of life in their very own church after worshipping for more than five years in borrowed and rented space at three different locations.”
“Since the beginning … we’ve had to rent churches and places for Christmas Mass or Holy Week,” said Lacroix. “So we’re really used to having a sacristy in a car; packing up candles or doing whatever we had to, to make things work.
“I guess if you have to work that hard at it, it means a whole lot,” she said with a laugh.
The majority of parishioners—including Lacriox and husband John who live in Lafayette—travel some distance to attend Mass at the “destination parish.”
“We have a pretty hefty drive … about 45 minutes, each way,” she said. “It (Latin Mass) is very important to people that go to our parish, so they’ll make sacrifices … that has remained very steady through (the years).”
Father Hearty agreed, describing the spirit of the parish as “fervent” and striving for loyalty in Church teaching; while building an atmosphere of prayer, charity and support.
“Parishioners desire to be counter-cultural,” he said. “To give to their children what may not have been supplied, or lacking, in their own upbringing especially in the teachings of the Church and the beauty of the liturgy.”
The roots of the community date back to 1995 when then-Denver Archbishop James Stafford invited the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to Denver to discuss creation of an F.S.S.P. apostolate in the archdiocese. An agreement was reached, and on July 16, 1996, Father Jose Maria Salgado arrived in Denver to establish Our Lady of Mount Carmel Latin Mass Community.
For several weeks Mass was celebrated in the home of parishioners Tom and Ann Longua of Westminster, beginning with approximately 20 people. In August 1996, Masses were moved to the chapel at Colorado Catholic Academy in Wheat Ridge (which has since closed), where they remained until the Littleton property was purchased in 2001.
Until 2009 the community had many of the rights and privileges of a parish; however, it was July 1 of that year when Archbishop Chaput officially approved the community as a personal parish “perpetual in nature.”
Approximately 600 faithful attend the three weekend Masses, and some 260 families are registered at the parish that Lacriox said is “bursting at the seams.” “I see the parish only continuing to grow in numbers and certainly in faith,” said Father Hearty. “When we as a parish are strong, individuals are also strong, and all the more effective we are in teaching the faith by our example, prayers and instruction.”
For the last two years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been planning major renovations that will double its capacity from 200 to 400. The $1.4 million construction project is anticipated to start in December or spring 2012.
“As far as the construction, it’s not daunting to most of us at all,” said Lacroix, “because we’ve been through so many temporary situations to get where we are.”
Construction is expected to last six to nine months.
“We’re most grateful to (clergy and laity who) have been generous, patient and accommodating over the years to the needs of the faithful who desire to worship God and to remain faithful to the Church via the traditional Latin Mass,” Father Hearty said.