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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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!


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.