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Goat Hill and Our Lady of Visitation Parish: Part Two: Remarks of Federico Pena – Former Denver Mayor at a Press Conference at Our Lady of Visitation Parish (actually outside of the Parish), Protesting the Archdiocese of Denver’s Decision to close the Parish.

April 27, 2017

Parishioners at Our Lady of Visitation Parish listening to Parish member and former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, criticizing the Archdiocese of Denver’s decision to close their parish.

Federico Pena: I am going to begin with an apology. I apologize for having you stand here in the cold – let’s hope it doesn’t rain because yesterday we were informed that we could not use the parish hall. We were denied permission to use the facility. Very early this morning I called a good friend, Rudy Gonzalez, and he brought these chairs, a temporary podium, the microphone – so we could have our press conference outside.

So I apologize for the cold weather. Here we are and we are going to have the press conference nevertheless.

Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Federico Pena. For those of you who do not know me, I have been coming to this church for thirteen years. My wife Cindy and I have been working the pickle booth at the bazaar for thirteen years. Many of you have come and given your hard-earned money to a worthy cause (Our Lady of Visitation = O.L.V.) – we appreciate that. Over the last several years my wife and I have made significant financial contributions to this church. We do so lovingly and because we believe in the mission here. My father-in-law, Cindy’s father, Lloyd Quintana, is the deacon here and has been so for almost thirty years. We drive fifty miles to come here to watch him celebrate to watch him celebrate mass because it gives us a special joy. That is how much we honor him and everyone here who comes to this church.

Just as many Catholics drive many miles to see the basilica in downtown Denver – they don’t live in the neighborhood – many of you (speaking to parishioners at the press conference) drive many miles to come here because this is a very special place. Unfortunately you can’t see the altar (inside) and the church, but if you did, what you would see is a reflection of the Latino Community from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado – very unique in the state of Colorado. There aren’t many places like this. So many people drive here to attend this beautiful church just as others drive to the basilica and other facilities.

We’re here today to announce that we will be conducting a prayer-vigil-demonstration at the residential complex of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

Why are we taking this step, such a dramatic step?

The reason is because Archbishop Aquila decided to close Our Lady of Visitation last November without any input from us (the congregation), without any consultation with the parishioners, without any discussion.

Though this church is small and the people here are humble, we’re very proud – as you can tell from the people who are here today. We only want to worship at this church, this very simple, humble church, that has been our place of worship for almost seventy years.

We’re here today to announce that we will be conducting a prayer-vigil-demonstration at the residential complex of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

Why are we taking this step, such a dramatic step?

The reason is because Archbishop Aquila decided to close Our Lady of Visitation last November without any input from us (the congregation), without any consultation with the parishioners, without any discussion.

Federico Pena noting that the sun had burst through the clouds as “a sign” the parish might be saved.

He has refused to meet with us even though we have sent several letters asking for a meeting. To this day we have yet to have a meeting with Archbishop Aquila.

Because the archbishop made a decision in November to close the services and the one mass a week that we hold here – one mass a week – we have been told that the reason is that there is a priest shortage. We understand that there is a priest shortage but we went and talked to a number of retired priests and other priests and we asked them “Would you be willing to say mass here because the one pastor can no longer do a mass a week every week of the month?”

We got four priests who said yes, we’d be willing to say mass here. But then we learned that the archbishop stated that he would not give them permission to come and say mass here. There is no shortage of priests; there is only a shortage of permission and of good will.

So we are inviting the broader community to join us this Sunday at the archbishop’s residential facility at about 1 pm. We will have buses leaving from here (O.L.V.) just after noon and going to that location.

I want to announce however that late yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from the Communications Director of the Archdiocese. She asked if I and Pierre (Lopez) and Jerone (DeHerrara) and Sandy (Paiz Garcia) would meet with Bishop Rodriguez and Father Leyba (Holy Trinity priest who does mass at O.L.V.) today at noon in this facility (O.L.V. meeting hall). We have just spent an hour and a half meeting with them. I am pleased to say to all of you that we had a very constructive dialogue. There were actually some proposals that were put on the table, some ideas on how we could move forward.

The sad thing is that it took us five months to have that conversation. It took us a press conference. It took us the announcement that we are likely to have this demonstration on Sunday to have this conversation for the very first time. We’re hopeful that out of this preliminary conversation we had today that a decision and an accommodation can be reached. And we’re hopeful that maybe even before Sunday there can be a new understanding reached between the Our Lady of Visitation parishioners on the one hand and the archbishop and the Archdiocese on the other.

The sad thing is that it took us five months to have that conversation. It took us a press conference. It took us the announcement that we are likely to have this demonstration on Sunday to have this conversation for the very first time

In the event that we do not an agreement reached before then we are going to proceed with the prayer-vigil-demonstration.

Let me close with these comments before I introduce three other speakers.

We’re all aware as American citizens there is civil law, matters for the courts of our state; there is canonic law, matters for the ecclesiastical concerns of the Church. There is also the law of conscience, the law of social justice, the law of doing the right thing, but most importantly there is God’s law, God’s commands. Jesus said, “The greatest of these is love.” Love is not shown by issuing edicts. Love is not demonstrated by refusing to listen to others. The parishioners of Our Lady of Visitation deserve the respect and dignity afforded any congregation that is truly loved by its membership.

So we remain hopeful that perhaps there is accommodation that can be reached but in the mean time we will still proceed with the demonstration on Sunday

________________

Part One

Part Three – Jerry Roy’s Brief History of Goat Hill

Part Four – Demonstrating – or almost – on Archdiocese Property

________________

Parish Council Member Sandi Paiz Garcia explaining how the Parish had collected 1200 petition signatures in two weeks of people opposed to the closing of OLV

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Rudy Barron permalink
    April 28, 2017 8:15 am

    It is very sad that our church is closing these folks have kept this Holy place going for Many years.

    • April 28, 2017 8:43 am

      Rudy Barron: It isn’t over quite yet and given the way both the parish congregation and the broader Goat Hill community have come together to oppose this unjust, thoughtless decision, there is a possibility that it will be reversed. We’ll know in the next few days.

  2. Marie Giedratiis-Edgar permalink
    April 30, 2017 2:29 pm

    Wonderful news that there will be more conversations. I hope the demonstration reinforces the need for the Archdiocese to show greater respect for this faithful community.

Trackbacks

  1. Goat Hill and Our Lady of Visitation Parish: Part One | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  2. Support Our Lady of Visitation in its Protest Against the Archdiocese’s Decision To Close It – Tomorrow – Sunday, April 30 at !2:45 1300 S Steele St, Denver, CO 80210 | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  3. Goat Hill and Our Lady of Visitation Parish: Part Three: Jerry Roys’ Brief History of Goat Hill and Our Lady of Visitation | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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