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St. Cajetan's parishioners feel blindsided by changes at church

Two new priests are coming to St. Cajetan Catholic Church. This is a result of changes made by the Archdiocese and their partners. Parishioners told 9NEWS they felt blindsided and not considered for the decision.

The Archdiocese of Denver is making changes to one of the largest churches in the city.

St. Cajetan Catholic Church has always been under the Archdiocese, but the priests were coming from the Theatine Order. Now, priests will be coming from the Archdiocese. 

Director of Public Relations for the Archdiocese Mark Haas said the Theatine Order has been shrinking and so has their pool of priests. That's why the Archdiocese had to come in and help.

There will be two new priests come this summer, according to Haas. He said talks about the change have been going on for about a year, but parishioners tell 9NEWS they felt blindsided by the decision.

Evelyn Sedillos Sanchez has been going to St. Cajetan for as long as she can remember. She, along with other parishioners, said they wish they knew about these changes before they happened.  

"We heard that the church was going to be taken from us and that the Theatine Fathers would be taken from us as well," Sedillos Sanchez said. "So we started asking questions."

Parishioners were able to confirm that they were getting new priests but they weren't clear on the details. Sedillos Sanchez said parishioners felt like the Archdiocese wasn't taking them into consideration.

"We want to feel like we're a part of what's going on with the Catholic community and we would have loved it if this wouldn't have been so much of a surprise to us," she said. 

Sedillos Sanchez was a part of St. Cajetan when it was on Auraria Campus and had to be moved to its current location. She said the history of the church is a big reason why people feel so connected.

Haas said this type of change is usually communicated to the parishioners with a few months notice of the change itself. In this case, the two new priests are expected in the summer. Haas said rumors got out before the Archdiocese could let folks know.

"Seems like word got out there and some misinformation has been circling within the parish and they're obviously concerned about it but, I mean, it will be communicated to them and we just want them to know we have the best interest of their parish in mind," he said. 

Sedillos Sanchez said the church is three years shy of of completing 100 years as a Theatine Order. Under them, she's learned about humility and prayer.

One of her asks to the Archdiocese was to hold off on the transition until 2022 so parishioners can celebrate 100 years under the Theatine Order.

Haas said that parishioners are welcome to celebrate that landmark as a church under the bigger umbrella of the Archdiocese.

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