St. Anthony, Aguilar looks to repair aged church

By Andy Rybak

(Previously published in the World Journal, December 14, 2017. Used with permission)

StAnthonyAround 1870 pioneers moving north from New Mexico and east from the San Luis Valley settled in an area along the Apishipa River beneath the towering Spanish Peaks to build their homes and to farm and ranch. This first community was called San Antonio Plaza, later renamed Schultz Plaza in honor of the man who opened its first general store. In 1875 a Catholic church was built to serve this growing community.  It was christened the Parish Church of San Antonio.

The late 1880s brought the first coal mine – the Peerless – followed by the Royal mine, and signaled the influx of many European immigrants to work the mines.  In 1888 the town was renamed "Aguilar" for J. Ramon Aguilar who donated the land on which the church was built.  In 1894 Aguilar was incorporated.  

By 1922, Aguilar with a population of 1400, boasted a bank, four grocery stores, an opera house, a drugstore, five dry good stores, two furniture stores, six garages, one undertaking parlor, two churches, one grade school and a high school, three large coal mines and a score of other smaller mines.  It was time to build a new Catholic church, St. Anthony of Padua, to accommodate its 300 to 400 parishioners. The initial structure was condemned as it was judged that the foundation was not solid enough resulting in cracks in the walls. This may account for 1925 being notated as a conflicting date for when the church was built.  At one point, the populace of Aguilar swelled to 2,500 and the town became known as “ Little Chicago” with a large proportion of the 2500 residents, including grandpas and grandmas, involved in boot-legging.  Each Sunday at 8:30 a.m., a church bell rang to announce the start of services.  

Within a short time, coal mining began to decline.  The Royal mine was shut down resulting in a loss of 200 jobs, and with it, a steadily declining population in the town.  Up until March 4, 1946, St. Anthony’s had been a mission parish of Holy Trinity Parish in Trinidad.  Now it was officially designated an independent parish. The parish hall was begun in May of 1959.


Following in the footsteps of the Master in the Holy Land

By Nadin Williams Ospino

Williams4Knowing and traveling to Israel, the blessed land where the history of our salvation occurred, will always be an unparalleled experience for those of us who have decided to follow Jesus in a closer and more intimate way.

This experience began on May 29, 2017, with eight seminarians who are from different dioceses of U.S studying at the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisc.  Also, there were two committed lay people. All of us were led by Monsignor Ross Shecterle and Dr. Patrick Russell.
We arrived to Jerusalem at the feast of Ramadan in the evening. The thing that struck me was to see the style of the houses that after 2000 years still retain many of the traditions found in the Holy Scriptures.

We visited the old city, the Wailing Wall, the Holy Sepulcher, the exteriors of the Oman Mosque and we stayed in San Pedro in Galicanto for two days. We did not miss the typical visit to the Dead Sea with a refreshing dip in its salty waters and the famous cave of Qumram, where several manuscripts appeared.

There are three religions that coexist in Jerusalem: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is tradition for a Muslim family to guard the keys of the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Paradoxically though Jerusalem means "city of peace," there is still political, military and religious tension. It was, however, a window into our Christian roots for us.

Another significant experience were visits to the cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth. In Bethlehem we visited the grotto of the nativity and the field of the shepherd. In Nazareth we were in the Basilica of the Annunciation and  took a tour of the village. Also, the particular thing of that Basilica is that in its exterior it contains mosaics of all the Marian invocations of the world.  I was very happy to have found Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, patroness of Colombia.


Benedictine Oblates continue in Colorado prisons

By Deacon Dan Leetch
Director of Institutional Ministry

Prisons stockThere are four groups of Benedictine Oblates meeting in prison facilities here in the Diocese of Pueblo.   Our diocese is home to 19 Prison facilities; four federal prisons, two private for profit prisons run by Community Corrections of America, and 13 Department of Correction facilities.  Most are grouped in the Pueblo/Canon City area and account for 14 of this total.

The four Prisons with active Benedictine Oblate groups are La Vista (the female prison in Pueblo), Fremont (medium restricted), Crowley County Correctional Facility (a CCA medium level facility), and Delta Correctional Center (a minimum level facility).  These four active groups meet at least monthly for a follow-up to the retreat held in these facilities directed by Fr. Matthew Habiger, OSB and Deacon Dan Leetch, OblSB in June of 2016.

Fremont, Delta and Crowley are the largest continually-meeting groups, meeting once a month to study the Rule of St Benedict, pray the Liturgy of the Hours in common, and listen and discuss a very interesting set of CDs from “Now You Know” media recorded by Thomas Merton from the time that he was the Novice Master at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky.  His 16 lessons focus on Chapter 7 of the Rule of St Benedict, the chapter on humility.  These recordings are from Merton's actual sessions with his novices, recorded on reel to reel tape machines.  It is a great joy to listen to Thomas Merton as he shares his insights on REAL humility in the midst of daily life in a monastery, even if the sound quality is a bit scratchy.  In the best sense, Merton becomes our novice master as he leads us through an in-depth study of chapter 7.  In addition, the oblate novices at these two facilities are also working their way through Michael Casey’s excellent book 74 Tools for Good Living which is an in-depth reflection on chapter 4.  These two tools are providing excellent material for prayer and reflection for the "oblates in training," as well as excellent continuing formation for the existing oblates at these facilities.  Deacon Price Hatcher is very involved at Delta, and Deacon Dan is involved with the group at Crowley.  At the moment the group in Fremont is self directed.


A holy road trip in our own backyard

By Elaine Taylor 
Parish Nurse, St. Joseph, Grand Junction

Note: The author took a trip this summer with her mother. Journey with her through her stops and recommendations as she highlights places worth exploring in the San Luis Valley.

Get away and experience the holiness in our own backyard.  This overnight journey to the San Luis Valley will remind you of how beautiful and sacred Colorado is.  The first site is 216 miles or four hours from Grand Junction.  Head south on US Highway 50.  Take the scenic route through Lake City or continue to Gunnison.  Ol’Miner Steakhouse in Gunnison is a good lunch stop.   Take the Saguache cut off to La Granita Trading Post.  There are affordable places to stay the night in Alamosa.   Hop in the car and explore these holy places.

dFirst stop: Juan Spiritual Center Holy Rosary Walk
41605 County Road G La Garita, CO 81132

Walk the same path where courageous Hispanic settlers journey to live their faith at the foot of the LaGarita Mountains, the Holy Rosary Walk is a place of panoramic beauty.  It is protected by the rugged San Juan Mountains to the west and looks across the valley towards the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains.  Take a glimpse of the strength and faith in God and in each other these first settlers possessed to build the second parish in Colorado completed in 1879. Sixty-six miles from the Holy Rosary Walk is the second stop.

Second stop: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
6633 County Road 13 Conejos, CO 81120

This was the first parish established in Colorado in 1858.  Father Joseph Machebeuf said the first Mass.  Fire destroyed the church in 1926 and fire again struck in 2016.  After the fire in 2016, an image of a crown appeared above Our Lady of Guadalupe that some consider a miracle. Another 42 miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the third stop.

Third stop Stations of the Cross
Main Street San Luis, CO 

The town of San Luis is home to a cultural and spiritual display of art.   Created by San Luis native and internationally known Huberto Maestas, the Stations of the Cross are beautifully depicted in a series of bronze sculptures along a comfortable three-quarter mile that climbs a short distance up a small mesa named La Mesa de la Piedad y de La Misericordia, the Hill of Piety and Mercy.   The walk offers numerous opportunities for meditation and reflection, and ends at the top at the chapel, La Capilla de Todos Los Santos (The Chapel of All Saints).  Below lies the village with its “vega.” San Luis’ communal pasture, and the People’s Ditch, the oldest communal irrigation waterway in Colorado.  No matter your spirituality, this is an emotional and cultural experience. Return to Alamosa for the night and enjoy the quiet.  Alamosa is 40 miles from the Stations of the Cross.


Schools director reflects on Catholic education

By John Brainard
Director of Catholic Schools

CSWWEEK MassCatholic Schools Week provides us an opportunity each year to celebrate and recognize our Catholic Schools for the gifts they bring to the lives of our children and their families throughout our diocese.  St. Columba in Durango, Holy Family in Grand Junction, St. Therese, and St. John Neumann in Pueblo provide our children daily experiences in Christian discipleship and God’s love.  I was reading the story of Damien Woody, a former NFL player with the Patriots, Lions, and New York Jets.  When he was playing for the New York Jets, Woody sent his children to St. Vincent’s in New York even though his family wasn’t Catholic. At a Christmas concert, another parent asked him why. He answered, “My wife and I believe that a school where they love God will love my children.”  As Catholic educators, we want our children to experience our Catholic faith daily and be exposed to a value system that will forever be a part of their lives.  Now, more than any time in recent memory, our students must prepare to be a source of moral leadership and energy as Christian disciples in our communities and our Church.  Stepping into St. Columba, Holy Family, St. Therese and St. John Neumann students experience the strength, enthusiasm and warmth of learning environments that celebrate our faith as they grow in knowledge, and practice serving others with the gifts that God has given to them.


Monte Vista's children “track Mary” at VBS

By Peggy Haslar

FrStephen VBSConductor “All Aboard!  The Queen of Heaven Express is about to leave the station!”  conductor Father Stephen Injoalu, called as children at St. Joseph's church in Monte Vista lined up and waited for him to punch their tickets.

It was another successful week of Vacation Bible School for the children of the San Juan Catholic Community.  Father Derrek Scott coordinated the program, leading a team of 19 teens and a few adults in delivering a fun curriculum designed to help children grow closer to Mary and learn to pray the rosary.

“Tracking Mary:  Mysteries & Messages” was held June 26 to July 1.  “Tracking Mary” is the most recent release from Catholic Kidz Camp, a division of  Children who attended learned about five Marian apparitions, one each day, as the Queen of Heaven Express “carried” them to places around the globe where Mary has appeared with a special message.  The first stop was France, where they learned about Our Lady of Lourdes.  Next was Portugal to hear about Our Lady of Fatima.  Then the Express took the kids to Mexico where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego. Ireland was next, where they studied Our Lady of Knock, and on the final day the Express arrived in England where Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock. 

The Bible story each day came from the rosary's Joyful Mysteries.  At crafts, everyone made rosaries, grottos and suncatchers to take home. During teaching times, children could be heard praying the rosary together.  And of course, everyone got to have fun chasing and racing during the games.

One of the highlights of each day was the morning opening, featuring teen leaders performing a skit that illustrated what the fruit of the day's Joyful Mystery looks like in real life. They saw humility in a young man who learned that his talents were gifts to be used in service rather than calling attention to himself.  In the skit on poverty, one of the teens decided to give away some of his favorite articles clothing (including a Steph Curry jersey he'd outgrown) to enrich the life of someone less fortunate.   Father Derrek, who taught every day, made a special appearance dressed as Juan Diego on Wednesday, and one of the teen girls, dressed as Our Lady at Fatima, helped children understand Mary's message to the three children at Fatima.  On Friday, everyone sang “Happy Anniversary” to Mary after learning about this year's 100th anniversary of her Fatima appearance.


Using the “Puzzle of Motivation” to help foster vocations

By Father Matthew Wertin
Director of Vocations

Quite often it happens, when we know we ought to do something, because it’s important and good for us, but we simply don’t do it because we lack the proper motivation.  In one of the most popular TED talks of all time (with over 5.7 million views; the video is posted at the end of this article), Dan Pink speaks about “the puzzle of motivation.”  He mentions how using a “carrot” or a “stick,” offering a reward or threatening punishment, not only doesn’t work, but may even do harm.  Most of us typically continue living the same way, without any positive change in the direction we need to grow, which is a “functional fixedness.”  Not overcoming this keeps many people from hearing and answering God’s call.

“Intrinsic motivation,” on the other hand, actually taps into the “building blocks of an entirely new operating system”: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.  Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives (i.e. “I do not wish to be a puppet for someone to control.”); Mastery is the desire to get better and better at something that matters (“I have no interest in being a coach potato my whole life.”); Purpose is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves (“I refuse to get swept away by trivial things.”).  Thus, at our core is the amazingly powerful desire: wanting to be something more, able to do something more, living a life that is worth something more!


Father Gallegos remembered

By Maxine McCue, MS,OPA

gallegosFather Larry Gallegos was a short man and slightly rotund most of his life, not that his daily duties centered around food. But when you lived a rather austere life as one of 12 kids, like he had, he kept his remarks and thoughts to himself. No, he wasn’t a big talker. He kept things inside.

Father Larry was born in Anton Chico, a small place, barely on the map, about an hour and a half drive southeast of Santa Fe, on April 9, 1939, according to his closest sister in age, Josephine Madril.

The family moved to Denver when Gallegos was eight years old so his father could work on the railroad at a steady job. Here in the growing city of Denver, he was able to attend Sacred Heart Catholic School where Catholic children were given opportunities usually not available to them. He and his sister, Josie, were only 11 months apart so they were raised as almost twins, forming a close bond with each other.

Growing up in the busy city, Gallegos was exposed to many new jobs and careers, yet like most young men, he struggled to learn who he was. What was going to be his place in this big world?  He prayed and pondered on the heavy question. “He would say, ’I don’t know what I want,’” said his sister.  Then in the summer of 1959 , he told his religious parents that he wanted to be a priest. So, at the age of 18, he joined the seminary at St. Andrews run by a small religious order of men founded by St. Cajetan in Italy.

Gallegos loved the Theatine order.  Spanish was his first language as was his culture and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1964 he did his year in the novitiate under the direction of Father Jaime Probens, C.R., professing as a Theatine brother for the first time on August 29, 1965. He continued his studies at the seminary. On May 31, 1969 he was ordained a priest by Archbishop James Vincent Casey of Denver. What a day that was for his deeply religious parents, Julian and Eloise Gallegos.


Catholic Education in the Grand Valley and Plough Shares, Volume IV

Plough shares2016 marks the centenary of Catholic education in the Grand Valley on the Western Slope.  The “odyssey of bricks and mortar,” as Father James Plough characterizes the journey, began with St. Joseph’s parish school.  This three-story stone building, erected in Grand Junction in 1914, opened in 1916 with two furnished classrooms, i.e., with blackboards, erasers, chalk, teacher’s table and a few desks.  Sisters Mary Agatha and Mary John of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas (the same religious order that staffed the local St. Mary’s Hospital) were the first teachers. 

St. Joseph’s opened another school campus in 1951, and provided Catholic education through 1974.  Somewhat concurrently, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish had a school at the “old” location of 7th St. and Bookcliff Avenue from 1962 to 1974.  IHM subsequently moved to a newly built church “up the hill,” and Holy Family Catholic School opened on the same campus, accepting students from all the Valley parishes beginning in 1974 and continuing to the present day.

Together, the St. Joseph parish schools, the IHM parish school and the Holy Family Catholic School have provided 100 years of quality Catholic education.

Father James Plough, retired pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Grand Junction, recently published the fourth volume of his collected homilies, “Plough Shares.”  This latest edition also includes narratives and photos featuring Holy Family Catholic School along with a profile of the school’s mission, written by Jake Aubert, the school's principal. 


Diocesan seminarian attends March for Life

By Williams Ospino

Ospino MFL17Eight seminarians from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisc., traveled for 12 hours from Milwaukee to Washington D.C. to participate in the annual March for Life on January 27. One of the seminarians was Williams Ospino from the Diocese of Pueblo.

They had four amazing days! The Sacred Heart seminarians attended the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, along with other presiding priests and seminarians. At that celebration, there were young people from many different states. It is important to emphasize that the priests and seminarians all prayed for an end to abortion.


SWCYC brings hundreds of youth to Farmington

By Martha Sandner
LifeGuard Facilitator

Wertin GuitarA projection on the wall of Farmington’s Civic Center announces the theme “Loving Mercy," offering examples of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in action. Then, the countdown begins and the crowd of youth start to cheer in anticipation of the Southwest Catholic Youth Conference (SWCYC). Music comes to life over the huge stage speakers as Fr. Carl Wertin, associate pastor at Holy Trinity in Trinidad and the emcee for the day, comes out on stage - on a skateboard - and the crowd goes wild!

If you missed SWCYC, you missed the opportunity to see faith at its best – fully alive in the hearts of teenagers. Speakers Bob Rice, Lisa Cotter and David Henrie used examples from their own lives and experiences mixed with a generous amount of humor, to drive home the point that faith, values and virtuous living are still possible in today’s world. Bishop Berg, from the Diocese of Pueblo, and Bishop Wall from the Diocese of Gallup, spoke eloquently as the attendees listened intently and took to heart the hope, compassion, and love that were offered them by these leaders of their faith.

2016 marked the 5th annual SWCYC sponsored by LifeGuard of Durango. Through the efforts and generosity of many, hundreds of young hearts and lives are touched annually at this, the only large scale youth conference in the four corners area. St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Farmington generously opened their doors to those who came from great distances and needed lodging. Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters stepped up to generously provide meals for the kids, as Chef Marc and Ann Weigel honor the Bishops, priests, speakers, and volunteers with a delicious meal. Generous donors sponsored tickets for those who would not otherwise be able to attend while other donors gave to insure the success and longevity of the event. Dozens of volunteers signed up in advance, or showed up on the spot, to do whatever was necessary throughout the day. There aren’t words to express our gratitude.