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Annunciation Heights’ Fiat Fest offers up ‘authentic Catholic joy’

Nestled in the mountains of Estes Park, Annunciation Heights has been serving families and children for the past four years, since its opening in 2018.

“Families don’t have the infrastructure they need right now to feel comfortable raising their families in the faith,” said Tommy Myers, Senior Mission Advancement Officer. “We provide a home for them, a place where they can come, be bolstered, and sent back out to be missionaries to other families all over the archdiocese and hopefully all over the world.” 

Last weekend, Annunciation Heights welcomed hundreds to its campus for their third-annual Fiat Fest, a fundraiser to support their mission and missionaries. The event featured an adventure race with numerous obstacles throughout the property. Following the race, one could find families and children catching up, playing lawn games or enjoying live bluegrass music while a barbecue dinner was being prepared. 

“I think it’s gone amazingly well,” Myers shared. “God has blessed this day. We were expecting some horrifying weather and it’s nothing but blue skies right now and a bunch of happy people. Third time’s the charm!” 

Both before and after the race, families scattered throughout the campus enjoyed time together, catching up, playing lawn games, and enjoying the mountain air. (Photo by André Escaleira, Jr.)

“Fiat Fest is amazing,” said Tiffany Franzluebbers, one of the attendees. “The joyfulness in all that attend, the kids running around enjoying all the activities, the conversations, the music, the food, and the beauty. I love going every year. I don’t participate in the race, but enjoy cheering on those that do.” 

“We love it up here,” shared Karyn Gonzales, a mom whose family attends not only Fiat Fest but a number of camps hosted by Annunciation Heights. “We love to bring our children up here and be together as a family and just celebrate this beautiful place and all that it stands for. It’s a beautiful place, close to home, where our children can come for summer camp. We can come for a family getaway to really reset and grow closer together and closer to God. And we always reconnect with old friends when we’re up here too.” 

Ultimately, that sort of encounter with God and others is at the core of the mission of Annunciation Heights. “In essence,” Kyle Mills, Executive Director of Annunciation Heights, told the Denver Catholic, “our mission is to invite people up here to encounter God in the beauty of this place so that they can encounter God’s grace in order to restore the heart of the family. They’re invited into a deeper mission, into living the Christian life and really understanding their identities as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.” 

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The event aimed not only to bring people to Annunciation Heights for family fun, but also to raise support for the Altum Institute, Annunciation Heights’ year-long missionary program. Missionaries give a year in service to the various groups of children and families that come to camp throughout the year. (Photo by André Escaleira, Jr.)

Bolstered by the support of so many around the Archdiocese of Denver, Annunciation Heights is gearing up for a new year of programming for children and families. “It’s time for us to go deeper,” said Mills, “to offer more direct programming to families in a way that will really change lives in a profound sense. I think that’s what we’re really ready to do.”  

All are welcome to join Annunciation Heights in this mission, Mills said. “We want to invite you to Annunciation Heights in some shape or form. Every program that we offer is meant to answer the questions ‘Who are you as a son or daughter of the Heavenly Father?’ and ‘How do you strengthen the family?’ We would like to invite you here. Come up and just relax. Get a chance to come up and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Experience the joy of what it means to be Catholic. There’s a lot of authentic Catholic joy up here.” 

For more information about Annunciation Heights, their mission and their camps and programs, visit annunciationheights.org

André Escaleira, Jr.
André Escaleira, Jr.
André Escaleira is the Interim Managing Editor of the Denver Catholic and El Pueblo Católico, as well as the Digital & Social Media Manager for the Archdiocese of Denver. Originally from Connecticut, André moved to Denver in 2018 to work as a missionary with Christ in the City, where he served for two years.

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