New saint linked to Diocese of Pueblo patroness

elizabeth trinityNicknamed “the little captain” in childhood, Elizabeth Catez was the strong-willed daughter of a French military officer.   Elizabeth possessed an intense personality and a fiery temper.   After her father's death when she was seven, her mother moved her little family to Dijon. Elizabeth studied music at its conservatory and excelled as a classical pianist. 

As a girl, Elizabeth awakened to the presence of Christ at her first Eucharist. She said to a friend who had also made her first communion, “I'm no longer hungry, Jesus has fed me.” When she visited the Carmelite monastery near her home, still in her communion dress, the prioress told Elizabeth that her name means “House of God.” This delighted the girl and she often reflected on what such a name really means.

Elizabeth's prayer life grew and she liked to spend time searching for God's presence within her.  Another visit to the monastery when she was 17 helped bring about the discernment of her vocation to the religious life.  “I just received this circular letter about the death of Therese of Lisieux,” the mother superior told her, “and I want you to read it.”

We now know that circular letter as The Story of a Soul, the beloved autobiography of St. Therese, our patron saint in the Diocese of Pueblo. 

Already given to contemplative prayer, Elizabeth knew, as she read the life of St. Therese, that God was calling her to be a Carmelite.  She continued her active life of works of mercy until allowed to enter the Dijon Carmel at age 21.  She would die there of Addison's disease only five years later.

The legacy of those five years would be writings of spiritual reflection that would become a gift to the entire Church.  Elizabeth's writings draw deeply on sacred Scripture, particularly the letters of St. Paul, whose hope in the glorious inheritance of God's children was the subject of much of her contemplation. Her writing layers Scripture texts in rich ways as she marvels at the infinite love of Christ and the radiant future of those who persevere in faith.

Elizabeth's Last Retreat was written for her own sister Guite, a married mother busy with a growing family.  In this retreat Elizabeth presents ten days of contemplation with reflections for morning and evening each day.  The saint understood contemplative prayer to be accessible to all souls who pursue it, no matter what their state in life.  She draws the baptized to consider the heaven already present with them in the indwelling Trinity.  She urges them to trust the God who knows their weakness and responds to it with infinite mercy.


White Mass held in Pueblo

White MassBishop Stephen Berg presided at the diocesan "White Mass" at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Sunday, October 16.  Dr. Kenneth Dernovsek, president of the Sangre de Cristo Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, addressed the congregation with remarks before Mass about the origin of the White Mass, which is in reference to the white coats worn by doctors and other healthcare professionals. The White Mass is an opportunity for the Bishop to acknowledge, to intercede for, and to give a solemn blessing to all medical professionals and healthcare personnel and their families who work to heal and promote health around the diocese.

The Diocese of Pueblo formally initiated the White Mass in 2012 to be celebrated in October near the feast day of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.  St. Luke is known as the "beloved physician" and loyal companion of St. Paul.  In addition to his gift of healing, St. Luke was also known to be the inspired author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, detailing the life of Jesus Christ from his conception to his death and Resurrection, and the formation of the early Church.  Tradition holds that he obtained information from the Blessed Mother and the Apostles, eyewitnesses to the life and mission of Jesus Christ.  


Pueblo area parishes collaborate for VBS

By Chris Armstrong

vbsWhat does collaboration look like?  Touted as ideal for the Church, this idea is working in the Diocese of Pueblo. The recipe for successful collaboration includes: parishes with one vision for Vacation Bible School, talented people willing to do their share, young adults and teens trained for leadership roles, sharing food, laughing and taking time to work together.  It is a perfect mix for a successful program.

This past summer, the parishes of Christ the King, Cathedral, Holy Family, Our Lady of the Meadows all in Pueblo, along with St. Benedict in Florence and St. Michael in Canon City came together to share resources and people-power to bring Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si to the 200 plus children from the southside of Pueblo to the city of Canon City.


Coming Home to his Sacred Heart

By Ginny Revel

From the Prayer of Dedication (on the occasion of the consecration of the new Sacred Heart Church in Fruita):

“Father in Heaven…
For today we come before you, to dedicate to your lasting service this House of prayer, this temple of worship, this home in which we are nourished by your word and your sacraments.”

SH Dedication 2Joy and excitement were tangible at the dedication of the new Sacred Heart Church in Fruita, on the sunlit afternoon of Saturday, September 17, 2016.  There was also a strong sense of community and homecoming, evident in the comments of the parishioners as they described their emotions about this event. 

Lance Stewart, the building project’s landscape coordinator, greeted the attendees as they arrived for the Dedication Mass.  He shared his thoughts on the celebration and the impact of this years-long journey by remarking:  “The most rewarding element for me is all the fabulous friendships I have made with other Catholics, and the community we have forged together.  I will never forget this experience.”

The idea of Church as “home” was another golden thread woven throughout the readings of the Mass.  It was also highlighted in Bishop Stephen Berg’s homily and in reflections by two of Sacred Heart’s pastors, Fr. Chrysogonus Nwele (2015 – present) and Fr. Michael N. Smith, S.J., (2001 – 2015).

The Church, as represented in both the physical structure and in the mystical Body of Christ, is the dwelling place of God on earth.  This was indicated in the second reading at Mass from 1Corinthians 3-9c-11, 16-17: “…You are God’s building…Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Bishop Berg explained that Jesus is calling all, as his brothers and sisters, into a holy communion with him, in his Sacred Heart.  He is building us into his family and into his Church.  Jesus is inviting all peoples to remember who they are and who they belong to, and to return home. 


Cathedral parish heeds call of "Laudato Si"

DSC 0487In January 2016 the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart parish decided to make some contribution to Pope Francis' Laudato Si, his encyclical on the environment.  After checking with CDOT, the parish found that there  were a number of miles of highway that had no volunteer cleanup activity.  Realizing that the interstates were off limits and that Highway 96 west toward Wetmore and Westcliffe had some open miles, the parish decided to pick up trash starting at mile marker 49 and going west for two miles to mile marker 47 on State Highway 96.  After viewing the highway department's videos regarding things they had to beware of such as needles, meth lab refuse, snakes and other creatures, they went on the first pickup, the day after Earth Day, a good coincidence.  The volunteers collected 36 bags of trash, some of it car parts, paper products, bottles of all kinds, little shot containers for alcohol and plenty of beer cans.  Some of the cans were from an ancient age like perhaps from the beginning of the Coors dynasty.  The most trash was from the littlest things:  cigarette butts and those Styrofoam packaging materials that spread out like peanuts from  Hades.  So far volunteers haven't found much money, but if any is ever found and it's not returnable, it goes to the parish building maintenance fund.

Intriguing items found were old cell phones.  While they did not pick up a workable cell phone on this trip, Fr. Jim did tell the group of one that he picked up in Durango a few years ago.  Surprisingly, the phone turned on and went to a text message.  The message was,  "Honey, is the wedding still on?"  There was a general feeling among the crew that this message may have been discarded along with the phone. While they group hasn't found anything quite that personal  in the Pueblo area, they are well aware of the surprises that can be found in the ditch. 


St. Pius X Parish, Pueblo, celebrates 60 years

rsz spx blessing of cornerstone 1On September 4, St. Pius X Parish in Pueblo celebrated its 60th anniversary at a Mass presided by Bishop Stephen Berg. The anniversary Mass was followed by the blessing of a cornerstone memorial in the courtyard. This is the original cornerstone that marked the beginning of construction of the parish church 60 years ago. It was removed 23 years ago to accommodate construction of a new handicap-accessible parish hall with a capacity for 280 people and a foyer connecting it to the church. The cornerstone was set aside but preserved and is now restored with dignity in a memorial in the courtyard that is bounded by the church, hall and parish offices. It is a vivid remind of the “living stones” who are the members of this church – past, present and future.

After the blessing, the parish celebrated with dinner in the parish hall accompanied by classical guitarist Ray Campbell, and was then treated to a piano performance by Bishop Berg, followed by a video of parishioner involvement in celebrated events, and finally entertainment by the parish choir.

The parish was created in 1954 to serve the needs of northwest Pueblo, and named after the newly-canonized saint, Pope Pius X, who encouraged congregational singing, frequent reception of the Eucharist by adults, and who made the Eucharist available to children of seven years of age on up. Two years later the church was completed. It was originally intended to be the gymnasium for the parish school (closed in 1970), but was rehabilitated into the church instead. From 1972 until 1986, the parish was also home for the Catholic families of the planned community known as Pueblo West. Pueblo West built its own church in 1986, St. Paul the Apostle, and continued as a mission of St. Pius X until 2009.


Blessed Sacrament Sisters celebrate 60th anniversary

Blessed Sacrament 60thBishop Stephen Berg was the main celebrant at a Mass on June 25 at St. Mary Help of Christians in Pueblo  to honor the 60th anniversary of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Seven priests concelebrated. Also in attendance were Sr. Josephine Roney from Waterville, Maine representing the American sisters, Sr. Maria Fe, provincial superior and Sr. Maria Catherine who came from the Philippines for the occasion.

The foundation in Pueblo was started by the American sisters in 1956 and continued by the Filipina sisters in 2009, but the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament were formed long before coming to Pueblo. The congregation was founded by St. Peter Julian Eymard on July 31,1859, in Angers, France. The Congregation is centered on the person of Christ in the fullness of the Eucharistic Mystery and wholly dedicated to his love and glory. The celebration of the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, and Eucharistic adoration give form to its mission of prayer.

When four sisters arrived in Pueblo in 1956 from their convent in Maine, Bishop Joseph Willging, the first Bishop of Pueblo along with Msgrs. Elwood Voss and George Holland welcomed them. Their first home in Pueblo was on Oakland Avenue, a structure originally built as  the home for the  CF & I superintendents. It then  served for a few years as a convent for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and later as the minor seminary for the Diocese of Pueblo. 


Local priest offers reflection on WYD

By Fr. Uju P. Okeahialam, CSSp

20160731 030832 resizedWorld Youth Day (WYD) just ended in Poland where the world's Catholic youth met with the Pope, our faith leader. Among the harvest of stories about the event, I tell mine from the perspective of a church elder, young at heart and in drive. Krakow, Poland is a land immersed in all that is Catholic and has the marks of the triumph of faith. Around it, too, smells all that can be abhorred by people of goodwill in the concentration camps. However, the city and the nation gave birth to the best people that have revolutionized the faith in the papacy of St. John Paul II and reinvigorated it through the Divine Mercy devotion from St. Faustina.

Although the cost to attend WYD was much, the urge to be aflame by the fire of others’ faith was worth everything. Many times some young people sit in their little corners and parishes thinking that they are alone in this journey but WYD tells them that they are not alone. At other times some of us older people think that our faith has no future because we see only older people in the pews, but WYD tells you it’s not true. Severally, many think that their experiences cannot be validated by the tenets of our faith, but the testimonies of others who have passed through similar dark-nights only remind us to be still and know that God is our God in spite of ourselves.


Diocese receives grant for Benedictine Oblate in Prison Program

Logo Year of MercyThanks to a generous donation from Catholic Extension, the Diocese of Pueblo was able to breathe new life into a longtime prison ministry offering, the Benedictine Oblate in Prison Program.

The $10,000 came as a part of Catholic Extension's "Year of Mercy" grant. This special initiative offered in this Jubilee Year of Mercy aimed to provide 10 dioceses with the opportunity to better serve the poor, displaced, and vulnerable. The Diocese of Pueblo was chosen as one of the ten for its revival of this prison ministry program.

"I think that speaks to the strength of the program and how well it fit with Pope Francis' directive to 'Go out the peripheries,' " said Michelle Sandoval, grant writer for the diocese. "I also continue to hear from those involved that the Benedictine Oblate community is a 'perfect fit' for those who are incarcerated."


Grand Junction Deanery Hispanic Ministry celebrates ‘Days of Mercy’

By Carlos Ruiz, Office of Hispanic Ministry

rsz 1img 4230The Church of the Grand Junction Deanery was filled with the workings of the Holy Spirit on August 12 to 13, as over 300 people gathered in Delta to celebrate the Hispanic Ministry "Days of Mercy."  Bishop Stephen Berg spent quality time with the people throughout the weekend, celebrating reconciliation for over three hours and the closing Mass late Saturday evening.  Faithful parishioners and professional pastoral leaders from six communities came together to form the Grand Junction Deanery Hispanic Ministry steering committee.  Collaborating across the region, the HM steering committee planned the event over the past several months, under the guidance of the Office of Hispanic Ministry and deanery clergy.  Empowered by the Spirit, the lay leaders of these parishes gave testament to their faith by working hard to create an atmosphere of prayer, formation and community.  Local St. Michael’s leaders organized generous parishioners to open their homes and host families from Gunnison overnight.

 The days included included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reconciliation and a Eucharistic procession.  Fathers Don Malin, Albeiro Ciro Herrera and Andres Ayala as well as Carlos Ruiz presented catechetical workshops on the "Year of Mercy" as declared by Pope Francis, corporal and spiritual Works of mercy, and reflections on the Blessed Sacrament.  Saturday night ended with a solemn celebration of the Mass, led by Bishop Berg and concelebrated by deanery priests, and accompanied by Deacons Dan Leetch, Jerry LeBlanc and Price Hatcher.  Joyful musicians from Carbondale enlivened the weekend with prayerful song.


SWCYC: Save the Date

By Martha Sandner


logoOctober 1, 2016 marks the fifth annual Southwest Catholic Youth Conference (SWCYC) to be held at the Farmington Civic Center, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. This awesome event that reaches out to nearly 1,000 youth each year is sponsored by LifeGuard of Durango.

Bob Rice, an internationally known speaker, musician and inspirational teacher at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, will be bringing his own worship band and a very active sense of humor as keynote speaker for SWCYC. Our female keynote this year is Lisa Cotter, a nationally sought after speaker on the topics of dating, marriage, motherhood, and femininity, who balances sound theology with humor and practical insights. Youth favorite, actor David Henrie, will be present once again to encourage the youth to fearlessly spread their faith to the world.