A century of sealing love with marriage celebrated at Cathedral Basilica
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by Daniel Petty/DCR
Vince Vidger wanted his wife Dorice to have a fairy tale wedding amid the grand arches and towering gothic vaults of a church.
“I wanted my bride to be married in a Cinderella-type church and this was the place,” he said while inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver.
Their memorable wedding Sept. 2, 1989, was what they had always hoped, although it wasn’t without more humorous moments.
“I missed about two-thirds of it because I was scared as heck,” Vince said.
Dorice most remembers her brother walking her down the aisle, who moments before grabbed her arm and said, “You know, my truck is right outside,” she recalled he had said.
“I said, ‘Nope, we’re going for it.”
The Vidgers and other couples married in the Cathedral Basilica, located at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Logan Street, shared the memorable moments of their weddings after a Mass 10:30 a.m. Oct. 28. It was one of a series of Masses commemorating the “mother church’s” 100th anniversary and the people who’ve been a part of its history since 1912.
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila was the main celebrant of the anniversary Mass 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27 with concelebrants Bishop James Conley, Msgr. Thomas Fryar, Father Michael Bodzioch and Father Andreas Hoeck. Those who were baptized or married at the church and those who attended the Cathedral High School and elementary school were honored at different Masses throughout the weekend.
What makes a church truly grace-filled is the people in it and the way they experience Christ through the sacraments, said Cathedral Basilica pastor Msgr. Fryar.
“This is more than just celebrating 100 years of these walls standing,” he said. “It’s what has taken place within these walls during that time.”
One event that occurred inside was the Tony and Paula Lopez wedding Aug. 17, 1991. The couple, from St. Thomas More Church in Centennial, decided to wed in the French gothic cathedral “because it’s so grand” and because of its show-stopping beauty. The Oct. 28 mid-morning Mass was the first they attended at the Cathedral Basilica since moving back to Denver after an eight-year stay in Virginia.
“It’s so much more beautiful than I remember,” Paula said looking at the stained glass windows and marble structure.
With tears in her eyes, she recalled feeling overwhelmed yet excited when walking down the aisle and seeing her friends and family there.
Tony and his groomsmen were preparing in the sacristy before the wedding and decided to look through a peephole that overlooked the pews.
By the Numbers
Facts about the Cathedral Basilica
It cost $500,000 to build in 1912.
“I was fine up until then, but when I could see everyone coming in that’s when I got real nervous,” he said.
Newlyweds Ryan and Irene Schipper, regular parishioners at the Cathedral Basilica, also attended the Mass for married couples.
Both adrift in college, they found their way back to the Catholic Church while attending Mass and going to confession there. They made it their parish when dating and engaged. They wed June 16 and shared memories of nervousness.
“I kept saying Hail Marys, one after another, in the back just trying to calm my nerves, because I was so nervous,” Irene said. “I was thinking, ‘This is it. This is the moment.’”
Ryan said, “I think seeing her come down the aisle sticks out in my mind.”
Crying and shaking when she reached the altar, she felt better when she saw her groom, Ryan.
They continue to attend Mass and confession at the Cathedral Basilica where they remain awe-struck by its beauty, the moving music and the rich history it holds.
“I’m very proud of this Church, and I tell people all the time I’m a parishioner here,” Irene said. “It’s a beautiful church—not just the building, but the people who come here.”
100th Anniversary Mass
Historic liturgical items from each of the Denver Archdiocese’s bishops were used at the 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica in downtown Denver. Here is a list of those items:
Pioneer Bishop Joseph Machebeuf’s chalice