ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — A group of Catholic women claim they were denied Communion at an Englewood, Colorado church for wearing rainbow-colored face masks.

Sally Odenheimer said it was an effort to show support for Maggie Barton, an LGBTQ teacher fired from the church’s affiliated Catholic school. Barton claims she was fired from All Souls Catholic School in Englewood after the Archdiocese of Denver learned of her same-sex relationship.

The Archdiocese said she was fired because she violated her contract, which includes “refraining from taking any public position or conducting himself or herself in a manner that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“When Maggie Barton’s story hit, it struck a cord in me and I felt compelled to do something,” Odenheimer told Nexstar’s KDVR.

Arriving for Communion, the priest ‘nodded for her to leave’

Odenheimer and her three friends attended mass at All Souls Catholic Parish on Saturday, Feb. 11, wearing their rainbow-colored masks. Odenheimer said they don’t usually attend All Souls.

“Our whole intent was to support and stand in solidarity for Maggie and for all,” Odenheimer said.

Three women stand side by side while wearing rainbow-colored face masks
Susan Doty, Sally Odenheimer and Jill Moore wore rainbow-colored masks to All Souls Catholic Parish to support LGBTQ teacher fired. (Courtesy: Sally Odenheimer)

Odenheimer said she chose not to receive Communion, but her two friends, Jill Moore and Susan Doty, were denied when they went up.

“I had no idea that [Moore] was just standing there with her hands out waiting to get the host, the Eucharist, and she was just saying, ‘Amen,’ and that’s it. And [the priest] nodded for her to leave,” Odenheimer said.

Next up was Doty, and for the first time in decades, Odenheimer said she was denied.

“Here are these decent, wonderful human beings being denied the Holy Eucharist solely on what they’re wearing. Solely on what they’re wearing. I was crushed by that,” Odenheimer said.

The Archdiocese of Denver responds

No one at All Souls Catholic Parish or the Archdiocese of Denver was available for an interview, but a spokesperson with the Archdiocese wrote, in part, that “anyone who considers themselves a lifelong Catholic knows that the Communion line is not the place for any political statement.”

“I wasn’t there to protest. I wasn’t there out of anger. I was there out of compassion,” Odenheimer said.

She said she’s not giving up.

“Maybe it opens up the door for other people, other Catholics, to open their eyes about what’s going on in this community and for them to decide whether they believe in that or feel like that’s the right direction the Archdiocese is going,” Odenheimer said. “It’s up to them.”

Below is the full response from a spokesperson with the Archdiocese of Denver:

“I will say, anyone who considers themselves a lifelong Catholic knows that the communion line is not the place for any political statement, especially when such statements highlight that the person is not in communion with Christ. If anyone believes they were wrongly denied Communion, we encourage them to speak to the pastor of their church who, unlike secular media, is better equipped to answer their concerns and help them be brought back into Communion.”