Parish welcomes national pilgrimage on their 100th anniversary

Article from Denver Catholic

ByAndré Escaleira, Jr.

“I wept in thanksgiving for this great gift”: National Eucharistic Pilgrimage finds home at 100-year-old Sacred Heart in Roggen

Jeanne Buchholz

Read the full article at Denver Catholic.

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage was a moment of grace for thousands across northern Colorado as Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist, made his way through our communities.

For one parish community, the pilgrimage’s visit was made even more profound by the coincidence (or divine incidence) that the stop was scheduled for their 100th anniversary.

Dedicated June 10, 1924, by Bishop Henry Tihen, the third bishop of the Diocese of Denver, Sacred Heart was established as a mission church of St. Peter Parish in Greeley, about 40 miles away. The mission church on the Eastern Plains was meant to serve farmers and their families in the region.

“This parish was built on the backs of faithful farmers, who made the parish the center of their life. They raised large families and educated their children in the faith,” shared Phil Buchholz, a parishioner of Sacred Heart for 65 years.

Those same Roggen farmers, especially the Klausner, Linnebur and Buchholz families, came together again in 1944 to build a new church, which was then connected with Holy Family in Keenesburg, only 10 miles west.

Designed by John K. Monroe, the new church was a 36×90-foot cinder block structure estimated to cost between $10,000 and $18,000 “since all the labor will be done by parishioners themselves,” reported the Denver Catholic Register in November 1944.

Indeed, the new church would not have been possible without the community’s support. Thanks to the generosity of the Roggen community, a beautiful edifice was constructed for the glory of God.

“The donation of labor enables the building of an unusually large church for a moderate sum,” the Denver Catholic Register commented in July 1945 as the church neared completion.

Among those faithful parishioners and founding families was Charles Buchholz, Phil’s ancestor. He oversaw the construction of the new church, having significant experience building churches in New Mexico and Kansas.

Buchholz’s children, including his daughter, Sister Regina of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, decorated the interior of the completed church, designing and carving the church’s altar herself. Renowned for her craft, Sister Regina was the first nun in the United States to be awarded an advanced degree and was oft featured for her liturgical creations.

In a peculiar challenge of wartime America, the church’s pastor at the time feared “that unless the restrictions on hardwood are released by the government, the purchasing of wood for the pews and the floor may present a delay to the completion of the edifice,” the Denver Catholic Register reported in July 1945 – one month before Victory over Japan Day, which would mark the ostensible end of World War II.

Nonetheless, the community patiently persevered, and the new church was completed and rededicated on June 10, 1947, with several former pastors and other priests in attendance alongside Archbishop Urban J. Vehr, the first archbishop of Denver.

The interior of Sacred Heart Church in Roggen, decorated for Christmas in 1932. (DCR file photo)
Screenshot of the Denver Catholic Register announcing the completion of the new Sacred Heart Church in Roggen on December 4, 1947.
Exterior of Sacred Heart Church in Roggen. (DCR file photo)
Sister Regina Buchholz was renowned for her artistic work, including her creation of Sacred Heart’s altar. (Screenshot of the Denver Catholic Register, December 29, 1949)
Screenshot of the Denver Catholic Register, April 17, 1947
Paten and chalice designed by Sr. Regina. (DCR file photo)
Sister Regina’s craft gained national attention. In this screenshot of the Denver Catholic Register’s coverage on May 29, 1947, a chalice and paten she created are featured.
The Buchholz family, including Charles, who oversaw construction of the new Sacred Heart Church in Roggen, pictured on the occasion of the parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. (Screenshot of the Denver Catholic Register, September 7, 1950)
Sr. Regina was the first nun in the United States to be awarded a PhD, according to the Denver Catholic Register’s coverage on October 11, 1951.
From the dedication of the convent at Sacred Heart Church in Roggen. (DCR file photo, October 16, 1963)

Since then, Sacred Heart Parish has been a beacon of faith on the Eastern Plains, a pillar in the community.

“My parish community is a support for my family and my faith, a means to share and teach my faith,” said Jeanne Buchholz, Phil’s wife and a parishioner at Sacred Heart for 45 years. “I have to be accountable to each one of them, which makes me a better, a more responsible Catholic. We support one another in the sacraments, in sickness and in death. Our community helps each other to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and body and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

“The parish is family,” shared Deacon Ed Green, a Sacred Heart parishioner for 48 years now assigned to the community. “We pray together, work together, learn together, and this is the place where our children learn the faith and embrace it.”

“This is our church, our community and a huge part of our family’s spiritual journey. We are very fortunate to be a growing community with many families that are wonderful people,” said Rich and Patty Huwa, 51-year parishioners of Sacred Heart. “Our Catholic faith and its beautiful sacraments are very important to us.”

Some of those newer parishioners referenced by the Huwas echoed the family environment of the parish, noting that they have felt welcomed from day one.

“The parish community welcomed our family with open arms. They have made us feel like family from the first day at church,” shared Rhonda Derby, who has been part of Sacred Heart Parish since 2012.

Cassie Rosling officially joined the parish in 2008 and echoed Derby’s sentiments, saying, “This community has always made me feel welcome, a part of a family, and has taught me so much.”

Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur
Photo by Michelle Linnebur

It was to this tight-knit, warm and welcoming community that Jesus himself came, fully present in the Most Holy Eucharist, as he passed through the Archdiocese of Denver in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

Arriving from the Denver metro area following the massive Eucharistic procession that drew nearly 5,000 faithful to the downtown area in prayer and witness, the pilgrimage offered the Roggen faithful an opportunity for peaceful prayer and Adoration of our Eucharistic Lord. Mass was offered the next morning, followed by a procession through the community.

“God is good and knows all things! We were in awe from the beginning to the end,” shared Jeanne Buchholz. “This was the biggest thing that has happened to our parish in many years. I could not stop my tears; I wept in thanksgiving for this great gift. The Eucharistic Pilgrimage made our parish’s 100th anniversary so much more solemn, and gave God the highest honor and worship.”

“It was priceless, a great gift for a great parish,” added Helen Rosling, a 50-year parishioner.

“It felt amazing to be part of a very special event with Jesus,” Derby said.

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s visit to Sacred Heart was indeed a “very special event,” with hundreds coming to meet the Lord Jesus, present in the Eucharist, as he passed through town.

“It was amazing to see the community and outpouring of people that came out for the pilgrimage. There was a different feeling of Jesus’ presence of peace and love that felt even more tangible,” said Cassie Rosling.

“There are not many times in one’s life where you know that history is or has been made. However, the pilgrimage aligning with our 100th anniversary was such a moment and Jesus gave that to us. What an amazing sign of love,” she continued.

Indeed, the coinciding of the parish community’s 100th anniversary and the visit from our Eucharistic Lord as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage was a historic moment that will not soon be forgotten.

“I was moved beyond words,” Phil Buchholz said, reflecting on the words of one of the priests traveling with the pilgrimage who told the Roggen community, “Jesus wanted to be here.”

“His noticing this and actually saying it gave me goosebumps,” Buchholz recalled.

“It was a high for sure,” Deacon Green added. “To see the reverence, the full church and to be a part of all the prayers and to see the excitement in the many faces was exhilarating.”

As they reflect on the parish’s rich history and the Eucharistic Lord’s visitation, the Roggen community can’t help but be filled with gratitude. If home is where the heart is, Sacred Heart has been a holy home for many on the Eastern Plains for the last 100 years and once again was a home for the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage.

“The blessing our Lord has bestowed upon this community is unfathomable,” the Huwas shared. “We are blessed beyond measure and times like this make you stop and treasure all of the gifts we are given.”

“To be a part of this anniversary is very special,” Derby concluded. “I think it is amazing this little church in Roggen is 100 years old. It’s because of the wonderful people inside of it. We feel at home at Sacred Heart.”