With the great influx of vocations that followed WWII, the Vincentians were able to respond to requests coming from various bishops to staff more parishes. In 1952, Most Precious Blood Parish (or MPB as the locals call it) opened in Denver to serve the needs of Catholics who for some years had been attending Mass at nearby St. Thomas Seminary. Unfortunately, the flow of vocations ebbed and by the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the province was forced to withdraw from some parishes, including MPB parish in 1991.
To this day, 32 years later, there remains at the core of the parish a dedication to serving the poor and working for justice in the Vincentian tradition. Vincentian affiliate and MPB parishioner Vie Thorgren attributes this to the Vincentian training that many lay leaders received from both the Vincentian priests assigned to the parish and through the lay ministry programs at the former St. Thomas Seminary, which the Vincentians ran until 1995.
“Things were done before the Vincentians left that formed people to do more than just meeting people’s needs,” Vie said, “but engaging with them as well.”
For example, moved by the plight of Afghan refugees after the fall of their country, MPB parish “adopted” a family of 10 people and helped them find housing, jobs, medical, education, etc… The relationships built between this family and the parish moved them to tell other Afghan families, “Be sure to look for the Catholics when you need real help.”
Currently, the parish is addressing the pressing social issue of gun violence in our cities. In order to simultaneously raise awareness and take action, MPB parish participated in a nationwide project called “Guns to Gardens,” based on the passage from the prophet Isaiah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Is 2:4)
On April 15, the parish co-sponsored a local Guns to Gardens event. Individuals were invited to bring unwanted firearms to the site for compensation. Skilled volunteers removed and dismantled the guns, and a blacksmith was on site to transform the parts into garden tools. A further goal is to move parishioners to make a pledge of non-violence.
All of these projects and many more echo the spirit of St. Vincent, who consistently said that our love for the poor must be both affective and effective. It is good to know that the spirit of St. Vincent is inspiring people at MPB parish to be both.