Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

As announced today, our new pastor will be Father John Paul Leyba. Father Leyba will join us next month from St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colorado. St. Thomas has published video of some of Fr. Leyba’s homilies. Here are some recent additions to the St. Thomas web page:

Wrapped in Self – Sunday April 10, 2011

This Baby Has Come to Change the World!- Friday December 24, 2010

Archbishop Chaput ordains three priests for the archdiocese

A June 2002 article by Alwen Bledsoe in the Denver Catholic Register highlights Father Leyba’s ordination by Archbishop Chaput. The article provides a biographical look at Fr. Leyba’s call to vocation:

John Paul Leyba very nearly chose a very different life for himself before concluding God was calling him to the priesthood. In fact, it wasn’t until he and his fiancée were in the midst of marriage preparation that his feeling that he might have a vocation to the priesthood became too acute to ignore. Fortunately, his fiancée, a devout Catholic herself, had once considered a vocation as a nun and so understood his dilemma, Leyba said. The engagement was put on hold, Leyba found a spiritual director, and a year-and-a-half later he entered Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. At the time, 1997, Denver did not have a seminary, he added.

It officially took five years of schooling and a year-and-a-half of discernment to get Leyba to his ordination June 1, but really, his vocation was a lifetime in the making, he said.

After five years in Illinois, he’s back and will be taking on the position of parochial vicar at St. Thomas More in Centennial.

Here is an excerpt from a 2010 DCR article about Fr. Leyba, written by his mother:

A Priest’s Chalice: My son’s chalice

By Lucille Leyba

Father John Paul Leyba was born near Taos, New Mexico. One of five children, he grew up and attended schools in Penasco, N.M.

As a boy he was a faithful altar server and he made sure we got him to church on time. He seemed to always enjoy being at Mass.

He started playing guitar at 7 and the following year joined the parish choir as a musician. He continued to serve as a parish musician even as a young adult. His high school autobiography list of possibilities for a future career included: music, engineering or priesthood.

He earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico and got a job with Hughes Aircraft in Aurora, Colo. He enjoyed his work there, but after about 10 years, he called our family to tell us he was applying to the Archdiocese of Denver to attend seminary.

Because the Denver Archdiocese didn’t have a seminary at the time, he attended St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. After a year, he came home and announced: “I’m going back. Without any pressure from anyone, now I know that is where God wants me. I’m at peace.”

We weren’t really surprised and we gave him our support. The idea of becoming a priest had never really left him even though he had tried to push it away as he pursued a career in the aerospace industry and had even been engaged to be married.

We joyfully received his priestly blessing on his ordination day, June 1, 2002.

Here is Father Leyba’s biography from the St. Thomas More Parish web page:

Editor’s Note: After his ordination in June 2002, Father John Paul Leyba was assigned to St. Thomas More. He served as parochial vicar until 2005. STM parishioners who knew him before are delighted to have Father John Paul with us again. Father will touch many hearts as he shares his musical talent, sense of humor and his deep love of God.

After Father John Paul Leyba left St. Thomas More, he spent two and a half years at St. Anthony’s in Julesburg, Colorado, a town near the border of Nebraska. While there, Father John Paul says he “did everything,” from running the parish both financially and spiritually, to fixing toilets, shoveling snow and fixing leaks. Since St. Anthony’s had no parish staff, Father John Paul did it all. He says his experiences at St. Anthony’s were fun and that he learned a lot. Another task Father John Paul managed at St. Anthony’s was teaching the teen religious education program, which he says was “intimidating” because, unlike St. Thomas More which has full-time youth ministers, he was given the task of coming up with the material to teach them. But, overall, Father John Paul likes working with youth because they are “wild” and willing to share themselves with others and open up spiritually. He also says, “I think like they do, so I think I relate to them.” After serving at St. Anthony’s, Father John Paul spent two and half years at Our Lady of Loreto.

For six months the pastor was on sabbatical, so he was again given the task of running both the financial and the spiritual sides of the parish. However, after being in Julesburg, doing administrative work at Our Lady of Loreto was a lot easier, and he says it was also interesting. At every parish in which he has served—including STM—Father John Paul says his favorite part is the people, who are “fascinating. Everybody’s so different and so not different. You just don’t get bored…you’re always exploring… the way they think and their perspectives on life.” Father describes working with people like “being an explorer. There’s always new territory.”

In addition to his musical talent that he previously shared at the LifeTeen Masses at STM, Father John Paul provides the parishioners with his insight to the Gospel readings. He says he came up with this idea when he was ten years old. While on vacation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attended a Mass where the priest explained the Gospel readings. Father John Paul never forgot that experience and he adopted it for himself. He explained, “I want people to recognize that we’re not that different from the people in the Scriptures,” and he hopes, “It would spark in people a love for the Scriptures.”

Father John Paul is very happy to be back at St. Thomas More, which he says feels like home, “like putting on comfortable shoes.” Father John Paul has certainly blessed this parish with his gifts, both musical and spiritual, and we are pleased he will continue to do so.

Father Leyba – we welcome you to Holy Trinity!


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Father Albert Puhl, first resident pastor of Holy Trinity

December 5, 2001

Father Puhl at the Dedication of the Fr. Puhl Center.

Reflecting on the names given to Father Albert Puhl, 83, we learn something about his character and his direction in life. At baptism he was given the names Albert Emmanuel, at confirmation he was given the name Anthony. St. Albert the Great was a teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. Emmanuel means “God with us” and is a messianic title prophesied by Isaiah the prophet. Anthony is the popular saint many Christians invoke when they needed help in finding lost or misplaced articles.

Five days after his birth on Nov. 25, 1918, he was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Montrose, Colo. His parents were born in Russia of German-speaking ancestors.

In 1922 the family moved to a farm near Delta. In 1925 he was enrolled in St. Michael’s Catholic School in Delta from which he graduated in 1933. He attended Delta High School until the family moved to Oakland, Calif., in 1934. He attended Castlemont High School and was in the graduating class of June 1937.

After an interview with Bishop Urban J. Vehr in July 1937, he was accepted as a student for the Diocese of Denver. His class was ordained in June 1944.

Father Puhl’s first assignment was as an assistant at St. Joseph’s Parish in Grand Junction. This assignment brought a lot of joy to Father Puhl because it was only 40 miles from Delta and 60 miles from Montrose.

His three years in Grand Junction were filled with interesting projects. The one event that overshadowed the many activities for the poor the parish sponsored was the August gathering of fruit for the orphans in Denver.

Father Puhl’s second assignment was as an assistant to Msgr. John R. Mulroy, pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Denver. After two years at Holy Ghost, Father Puhl was assigned to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He also taught freshmen religion at Cathedral High School and was the notary for the Archdiocesan Matrimonial Court.

For over a year Father Puhl temporarily filled in whenever a priest became ill. He spent several months in Rifle, several months in Glenwood Springs, and almost a year in Golden.

In 1951 he was made pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish in Julesburg. With the help of the parishioners he was able to liquidate the parish indebtedness, finish the trimming on the new church, organize a council of Knights of Columbus and introduce the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine into the parish School of Religion.

The number of school children had risen to over 3,000. Parishioners enthusiastically endorsed a capital drive, which brought in more than $350,000 to start the construction of six classrooms and a temporary church to seat 600. The amount raised was huge for the time, which still felt the lingering effects of the Great Depression.

When the initial construction was finished, the parish had saved enough money to build a rectory and a convent. The parish purchased enough ground for a grade and a junior high school. There was enough land for regulation-sized football and practice fields, including land for parking.

In 1957 Father Puhl was appointed the first resident pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster. The parish council and parishioners enthusiastically voted to move the parish site from Hooker Street to a larger site at 76th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. At that time there were more than 3,000 families in the parish, most with small children.

After Holy Trinity, Father Puhl was made the pastor of St. Mark Parish at 95th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. A small temporary church was constructed on the parish site. After a short stay at Christ the King Parish in Denver, Father Puhl was assigned as pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Boulder. He enjoyed the 17 years he spent there.

In Boulder, parishioners assisted in the planning and building of a fine parish hall. It is attached to the church to make the church and hall a unit, which may be used for separate meetings or church functions. The parish hall is fully equipped to accommodate 300 people. Its 25-foot-high ceiling gives it grace and grandeur. The church was remodeled to give it additional elegance and a more reverential atmosphere.

Father Puhl celebrated his 75th birthday, his 50th year of ordination and the year of his retirement in June 1994. Father Puhl is grateful to God for blessing his endeavors through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

See also the article on Father Puhl by Marilyn Cox in the Montrose Daily Press.

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Q: To start – tell us a little of your background. Who is Adam Hermanson?

Adam Hermanson: I was raised in Big Sky Country – Billings, Montana. I was fortunate to attend Catholic schools there from the first grade through high school. Following graduation, I headed to Washington, DC, landing at The Catholic University of America for my undergraduate education. After four great years at CUA, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. I then moved to Boston to begin studies at Harvard – receiving a Master in Architecture from the Graduate School of Design shortly thereafter.

My wife, Nicole – who was also raised in Billings – attended Boston University. She and I were married during our time in Boston, and we welcomed our first daughter during my final year of graduate school. After working in Boston for some time, we moved back to out West, ending up in Colorado. Since then we have been blessed with two more beautiful little girls.

We live in the northern metro area of Denver, and are active parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn.

Q: How did you decide to become an architect?

It was a very natural choice. Several teachers and friends of our family noted that I seemed to have interests that included both science and art. I was also able to visit with several architects at different firms in Billings, and every one noted that their job satisfaction was very, very high. The project-based nature of the profession makes everyday new and different – with new projects and new challenges.

I began working in a local architecture firm during my senior year of high school and gained a first-hand perspective on the practice of architecture. When I began studying architecture at CUA I came to understand it as my vocation, not simply a career or profession.

Q: How did you decide to open your own firm?

I enjoyed four years of practice at an excellent firm here in Denver before launching Integration Design Group back in 2006. I found myself looking for the next professional challenge, and the idea of starting a new practice had always appealed to me.

The decision was guided by prayerful discernment, and I have tried to establish a design firm that will serve faith-based and charitable institutions and organizations with the highest quality design services.

Because an architect is always a partner, we inherit the dreams, values, and purposes of an organization in order to serve its future needs. When the architect can align his values and vision with those of his client the architect serves their needs far more effectively. That is why I decided to step out in a new way, offering values and vision that serve the needs of faith-based organizations.

Q: What have been the rewards of practicing architecture?

The rewards are many indeed. There is great satisfaction as a project comes to fruition – knowing it will have a positive effect on the lives of many people.

Architecture responds to our human condition in many, many ways. It is about people – from its purpose, to its process, and its products. Without the needs, relationships, and appreciation of people there would be no rewards in the practice of architecture. Simply stated, the great reward in the practice of architecture is our participation in the transformation of the world, for the better, for others.

Q: What exactly do architects do? What are your key responsibilities?

The architect’s role changes throughout the course of the project. At the outset the primary role of the architect is to assist the owner in envisioning the possibilities for the future of their built environment. Then each project requires decisions to be made which eliminate some of the possibilities, and the owner rightly depends on the advice of the architect in this narrowing of the options. Then the architect brings all the necessary engineers and other design experts into the project and coordinates their aspects of design work. The architect brings together all of the project requirements and the design efforts of multiple engineers into a cohesive, integrated whole. All of this occurs under the guidance of the architect who guides the project, ensuring that the final design meets the requirements and goals set forth in the early stages of the design process.

Allston Branch of the Boston Public LibraryQ: What are your favorite buildings?

I have a real appreciation of buildings that A) utilize authentic materials, and B) serve a public, communal, or ritual purpose.

One example is the Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library – contemporary Exterior SJVdesign with elegant use of stone, wood, and daylight.

Another wonderful example is Christ the King Chapel and its Tower at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization here in Denver – exquisite design, grounded firmly on this earth and lifting our eyes heavenward.

Q: What are the key influences in your work today?

Our work avoids the contemporary emphasis on thinner, lighter, more synthetic materials. We favor design with ‘gravitas’ – having greater presence, solid authentic materials, and traditional order, proportion, and balance. And certainly these can be achieved with contemporary construction methods; however it requires that we pay greater attention to craftsmanship and detailing.

Almost all of our projects involve working in on or around existing buildings – so we are continually working to stitch old and new together – hence ‘Integration’ as part of our name.

Q: What church building has made the biggest impression on you?

National ShrineI would have to name two. The first is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University in Washington, DC. It is a building of immense scale, such as is rarely experienced in the life of American Catholics. The devotional mission, its Marian dedication, and the rich integration of diverse artwork throughout make it an impressive and particularly American expression of our Catholic faith. The crypt church below the main church is particularly excellent. I had the opportunity to work, worship, and study in and around this building, and even received my degree on its east steps upon graduation from CUA.

Dominican ChapelThe second is a chapel within a building – at the Dominican House of Studies adjacent to the campus of Catholic University. While a student at CUA I attended daily Mass very often with the friars who were teaching and studying at the Dominican House. We would join them in the choir stalls and participate in Vespers with them, chanting the psalmody back and forth across the chapel. The simplicity and order of the chapel along with the beautiful wood altar and reredos left a substantial impression on me as an aspiring architect – strengthening my appreciation of the role and value of tradition in the life of the Church.

Q: How do you think the role of the architect will change over the next twenty-five years?

It will vary greatly by the type of clients and projects that the architect serves. However, in almost all types of projects, digital modeling technology will allow tremendous integration of the ‘project delivery’ process – design and construction will be far more unified than they are now. This will change the role of the architect in many ways, not the least of which will be that the architect will participate fully as a team member throughout the entire project, not just as an adviser or consultant to the owner in the early stages of the project.

Q: What would you tell a Holy Trinity student if s/he asked you what s/he should study and do to be an architect?


  • Art – Basic understanding of the principles of classical and contemporary design.
  • Physics & Natural Sciences – Basic understanding of why materials behave in certain ways under certain conditions.
  • Business & Management – Basic understanding of business and financial matters.


  • Develop a love for the work and process of design – always looking for origins and consequences.
  • Observe and engage your surroundings, both the natural environment and the built environment.
  • Draw things and build things.
  • Always wonder why things are as they are, how they could have been different, and how they might be transformed for the better!
  • You must always to love to learn!

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