Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Holy Rosary Parish

Among the Eastern European immigrants seeking religious liberty, economic opportunity and freedom from serving in the Austrian army were Slovenes and Croatians, who began arriving in Globeville during the 1880s. They had been farmers in the old country, but with little education, few urban skills and no knowledge of the English language, they were relegated to industrial jobs in mills and smelters. Their one avenue for spiritual and cultural expression, as well as a connection to the Old Country, was their Catholic faith, and it was their hope to build a church of their own. 
Slovenes and Croatians in Colorado had already established ethnic parishes - St. Mary's in Pueblo in 1894 and St. Joseph's in Leadville in 1899 - but it would be a longer process for those in Globeville.
Denver's Bishop Nicholas Matz urged all of Globeville's Catholics to attend St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and discouraged the establishment of another ethnic parish just a block away. But St. Joseph's was very small, the Polish pastor Father Jarzynski didn't speak Slovenian or Croatian and made no arrangements to bring in a priest who could. Periodically, Slavic priests from Pueblo, such as Reverend Ignatius Burgar or Father Cyril Zupan, would travel two hours by train to say Mass, hear confessions and conduct funerals at St. Jacob’s Tavern. With such sporadic attention to their spiritual needs, many people just quit attending Mass. 
Leaders in the community decided to take matters into their own hands, and on October 20, 1916, held a meeting in St. Jacob's Tavern with leaders from several fraternal lodges, dramatic societies and glee clubs. A decision was made to begin raising money in the neighborhood, appeal for funds from lodges in Leadville, Aspen, Salida and Pueblo and wait. With the death of Bishop Matz in August, 1917, a committee approached his successor Bishop J. Henry Tihen for permission to start a parish for Slovenians and Croatians. Years of planning and saving allowed the parish to move quickly after receiving the Bishop's blessing, with the ground breaking ceremony on May 27, 1919, and the completion of the building on February 20, 1920. The church was dedicated on July 4, 1920 with Bishop Tihen praising the parishioners for their efforts - reminding them that poor people, rather than princes, built the great churches of Europe.
Holy Rosary now serves the descendants of the Slovenian and Croatian founders, the Hispanic community of Globeville and new urban pioneers settling the neighborhood.

Laying the cornerstone, 1919 photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Dedication, July 4, 1920. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Holy Rosary Church, 2012. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Holy Rosary Parish

The youngest of the three churches receiving historic designation in Globeville, 
Holy Rosary Church, convent and school State Register 3/10/1999, 5DV.349