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62 nuns buried in Denver cemetery to be moved for redevelopment

Remains of 62 nuns buried at Loretto Heights in Denver are now being relocated.

DENVER — The most recognizable building on the old Loretto Heights Campus along South Federal Boulevard in southwest Denver is the administration building.

It’s the red brick building, that's been sitting on a hill there for more than a century. It's now included in the National Register of Historic Places.

The campus was founded by the Sisters of Loretto in the 1800s and was first used as a boarding school for young girls. The sisters owned the campus until 1988. 

Westside Investment Partners, a Colorado-based developer, has owned the campus since 2018 after the college located there closed the year before.

The land around the historic structure will soon be houses, townhomes, apartments, and some retail and cultural facilities. All that development also means that the bodies of 62 nuns who are buried in a small cemetery nearby will need to be moved.

“It wasn’t our decision,” said developer Mark Witkiewicz with Westside Investment Partners.

He said they were ready to incorporate the cemetery, which dates back to 1898 into their plans.

RELATED: Denver City Council votes to rezone Loretto Heights campus

Credit: 9NEWS

The Executive Committee of the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky, however, decided it was best to move the remains to Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.

Sister Mary Nelle Gage, a Loretto Historian, said the Order felt the security and perpetual care at the Wheat Ridge location would make it a better place for the nuns to be interred.

The decision doesn’t sit well with Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who represents the area.

“To move them at the very time when this campus is coming to life again. Forgive me sisters, but it’s an insult to their legacy," he said.

Flynn pointed out that 11 of the women buried there have already been moved once, from a cemetery that used to be where Cheeseman Park sits now.

“As Catholics, we believe in the resurrection of the body, but only once,” he added.

Efforts though are moving ahead and in mid-June the nuns will be
exhumed and taken to Mount Olivet.

Learn more about the Loretto Heights development project.

RELATED: Denver officials celebrate restoration of historic Loretto Heights building into affordable homes

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