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Vatican will look into Denver Archdiocese closing Our Lady of Visitation Church

A tiny Chicano church in north Denver is getting the Vatican's attention and now they'll only have to wait 5 to 6 years to find out if they'll be able to attend mass at their church.
Our Lady of Visitation

Our Lady of Visitation is in a battle with the Denver Archdiocese because their one Sunday mass was ended - and now the Vatican is taking notice.

The Catholic church, at 2531 West 65th Place, was closed almost a year ago against the wishes of parishioners. The archdiocese canceled the church's only mass citing a lack of priests and the church's proximity to another parish, Holy Trinity near Federal Boulevard and Highway 36.

Distance between Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Visitation.

Some of the church's 100 members filed an official complaint with the Vatican in November. Last week, they received a response from the Congregation of Clergy, on behalf of Pope Francis.

"It's a huge deal," said church member Sandi Garcia. "I have goosebumps right now. I had goosebumps when I opened the letter."

Garcia says she does not feel comfortable sharing the official copy of the letter. She tells 9NEWS it says the Vatican received the petition asking to review the decision, that they have formally opened a review and they consider this a matter of "grave importance."

Our Lady of Visitation

Garcia said they have found priests who are willing to say the mass, and parishioners have offered to perform administrative duties for the church. Bishop Jorge Rodriguez said in a letter last spring that that method still wouldn't provide the stability a church needs, and based on resources, the diocese believed it made more sense for the parishioners to move to Holy Trinity.

"We are thrilled to know that somebody is listening," Garcia said.

Somebody somewhere is listening to them. It might be because of the fearless leaders at Our Lady of Visitation or because of a man named Federico Peña. He was the first Hispanic mayor of Denver, a Cabinet member under Pres. Bill Clinton, and a parishioner of the church. While we don't know if the Vatican knows him, he knows people who know people.

"He’s got so many connections that have helped us have a voice," Garcia said.

As far as the Archdiocese of Denver knows, this is the first time the Vatican is investigating a parish closure here. The Denver Archdiocese is confident the Vatican is going to support the closure.In a statement to 9NEWS they wrote:

"The Vatican has asked the Archdiocese to provide more information. The Archdiocese believes that the facts in this case will show that it acted properly, having in mind the pastoral care of those concerned and the whole people of God."

For the parishioners, this letter is their only hope. Garcia said she's being told it might take five or six years to hear back from the Vatican.

PREVIOUS: Parishioners complain to Vatican about Denver Archdiocese

For now, the Our Lady of Visitation building is still open. The property belongs to Holy Trinity.

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