Increase in church security catching some off guard |

DENVER (KDVR) — More than 30 incidents targeting Catholic churches in Denver, Boulder and Greeley underscore the importance of increased security at places of worship.

Yet the changes catch some off guard.

Travis Gerze tells FOX31 that he and his children were approached by a gunman as they walked through the parking lot of St. Mark’s Catholic Church on Sunday.

“I have two kids with me, ages six and eight, and a gunman walks up to me, doesn’t say who he is,” Gerze said.

Troubleshooters looked into the matter and learned that the man was part of church security personnel.

Denver Archdiocese spokesman Mark Haas told FOX31 that increased security is needed to protect people inside and outside the church, where busy parking lots can present a risk to children and other pedestrians.

“We’ve had people walk into parishes and make threats,” Haas said.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver suffered more than $45,000 in damage during protests in 2020.

Other incidents include the tires of 30 cars being cut at Holy Cross Parish in Thornton and more than $10,000 in damage from rocks thrown through windows at Boulder and Greeley Parishes.

Each parish makes its own decision on how best to handle security.

“They have children on their property that they are responsible for,” Haas said.

He adds that it is a difficult decision to make, but rooted in a sad reality.

“Your goal is for people to come to you to worship God, to come together as a community, so you want to be as open and welcoming as possible, but when you see this increase and the kind of security threats they have to make decisions on how they’re going to approach it,” Haas said.

Martha J. Finley