Although the present Holy Ghost Church was dedicated
on July 8, 1943, the parish has its roots in the 1860 construction
of St. Mary’s Cathedral, the first Catholic church in Denver.
In 1905, the cathedral parish was divided, and Holy Ghost became
a parish under Fr. Frederick Bender; a pioneer priest of the diocese.
He built a church at 20th and Curtis Streets, and furnished it
with objects and vessels from the old St. Mary’s Cathedral.
His successor, Fr. Garrett Burke, initiated Holy Ghost’s
long-standing traditions of fine music and service to the needy.
He managed the Catholic Workingman’s Club and hosted numerous
concerts and musical programs.
In 1923, the property at 19th and Californina Streets, on which
the present Holy Ghost Church stands, was purchased for nearly
$70,000 by Fr. William Neenan, then pastor. Under the architect
J. B. Benedict, ground was broken for the new church on February
29, 1924. Less than 1/3 of the envisioned church was completed
at its dedication on December 14, 1924. Fr. John Mulroy, Director
of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese, became the fourth pastor
of Holy Ghost in 1930. With the help of Fr. Jerome Weinert, he
began the practice of daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament,
another tradition that endures to this day. Helen G. Bonfils,
who had taken an interest in the parish for some years, announced
in October 1940 that she would complete the church structure in
memory of her parents. Three hundred tons of Colorado colocreme
travertine marble beautify the walls and columns of the church,
making it the largest collection of this stone in the United States.
Of the many priests who have served Holy Ghost over the years,
none is more beloved than Fr. C. B. Woodrich, better known as
“Fr. Woody.” He was a priest in residence at Holy
Ghost while still editor of the Denver Catholic Register in the
1970’s. After becoming pastor in 1978, he became more and
more the champion of the poor and homeless in Denver. He opened
the church for the homeless on cold winter nights and helped to
found the Samaritan House shelter for the homeless. In 1985 he
instituted our annual Christmas dinner for the needy, which now
provides gifts and meals to over 3,000 people. In 1991, Msgr.
Woodrich’s good friend and founder of the church’s
daily sandwich line, Msgr. John Anderson, returned as pastor.
Throughout the late 1990’s, the Vincentians continued the
mission of Holy Ghost Church.
On July 8, 2001, exactly 58 years after its dedication, Holy
Ghost welcomed the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Founded in 1826 by Fr. Bruno Lanteri, the Oblates bring a rich tradition of their own, specializing
in preaching, confessions, spiritual direction and retreats. They
have a tender devotion to the Virgin Mary, and profess firm allegiance
to the Pope.
In 2004, the Oblates opened the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Denver.
The Lanteri Center exists to make spiritual direction, daily prayer with Scripture, and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius more available to those who seek holiness. The Lanteri Center also provides training and continuing education opportunities for spiritual directors.
You can find more details on the history of Holy Ghost and the Catholic Church in Colorado, in Thomas Noel's Colorado