Five reasons not to miss Annunciation Heights’ Fiat Fest and Adventure Race

What do camp missionaries, a 5K race and a roasted pig have in common? You’ll be able experience all three and much more at one of the summer’s most exciting events happening next weekend!

For the second year in a row, Annunciation Heights is hosting their Fiat Fest and Adventure Race on July 31. More than just an excuse to go up to beautiful Estes Park for the day, Fiat Fest is a blast for the whole family and directly benefits the Altum Institute Missionaries who serve Annunciation Heights year-round. Registration starts at $75 person if you’re just coming to enjoy the day, and $100 if you want to participate in both the race and the day. The best part: kids 10 and under are free! Click here to register!

Still not sold? Here are five reasons why you definitely should NOT miss Fiat Fest.

1. The Camp

If you’re never had a chance to visit Annunciation Heights, then what are you waiting for? Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains at the base of Long’s Peak, the camp is a hidden gem in Colorado but is steadily growing in popularity. Annunciation Heights specializes in family camps, making it a prime spot to come and make unforgettable memories as a family while growing in faith together. The Fiat Fest weekend will mark the perfect introduction to all that Annunciation Heights has to offer, and a most opportune time to plan your next visit!

2. The 5K Adventure Race

This is no ordinary 5k. No, this is the Adventure Race. The most daring racers between the ages of 2 and 107 will gather and undergo challenges to test every aspect of their adventuring prowess. From archery to a giant slip n’ slide the stakes will be high and the bragging rights, priceless. If you’re not the competitive type but still want to test your mettle, there is non-competitive wave of the race just for you! The buzz after last year’s race didn’t die down for months, and we’re willing to bet this year’s race is going to be even more epic.

3. The Missionaries

All of the proceeds from Fiat Fest will support the Altum Institute Missionaries. The Altum Institute is Annunciation Heights’ missionary program named after the famous biblical passage from Luke, when Jesus tells Peter to “put out into the deep”. In Latin, it translates as Duc in Altum. Over the course of a year, the missionaries follow a rigorous rule of life in order to bring Christ more radically into their lives. This in turn allows them to serve Annunciation Heights in incredible ways. The missionaries are the heart and soul of Annunciation Heights. They run the youth camps, they put on the programs for families, they teach kids and help write lesson plans for the JPII Outdoor Lab, and when they aren’t doing that they are praying or getting their hands dirty doing much of the work the camp needs to stay beautiful and upright all year long. 

4. Faith and Fellowship

Fiat Fest is a festival, which of course is just another way of saying party. Come for the race, and stay for food, fellowship, faith and fun. There will be live music from a local bluegrass band, local craft beer, yard games, a bonfire, s’mores and so much more! This is the epitome of Christian fellowship, so if you’re looking for other like-minded families and friends to connect with and grow in community with, Fiat Fest is a great place to do it!

5. A literal roasted pig

Last but most certainly not least, Annunciation Heights just brought on a new chef from the heart of Louisiana, and the main course for the evening is going to be an entire roasted pig. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it will definitely be as delicious as it sounds. If you don’t eat meat, fret not; there will be a lot more than just a pig to eat! Either way, your soul won’t be the only thing that leaves fulfilled and satisfied!

Are you convinced now? Good! Click here to register! We’ll see you at the Heights!

COMING UP: Moral courage and the many cultures of death

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

CRACOW. Thanks to the pandemic, it’s been two years since I was last in Cracow, where for three decades I’ve done extensive research and taught great students while forming friendships with many remarkable people. It was wonderful to be back in one of the world’s greatest cities, and soon after I arrived in late June, I took a long walk to see what had changed. The first major difference I noticed was that the plaza in front of the central railway station (named for my late friend Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, a World War II courier for the Polish Home Army and the man from whom the future John Paul II got real news via Radio Free Europe’s Polish service) has a new, strikingly modern memorial, dedicated to the memory of Colonel Ryszard Kukliński.

That name is not well-known throughout a western world that has largely forgotten the meaning and lessons of the Cold War. But if Jan Nowak-Jeziorański was right when he spoke about the Polish colonel in the mid-1990s, Ryszard Kuklinski was a genuine hero of the long, twilight struggle against communist totalitarianism — the man who helped prevent a bloody Soviet invasion of Poland to crush the nascent Solidarity movement.

An accomplished officer in the communist-era Polish Army, Ryszard Kukliński began to doubt the truth of what he had been told about the West when, as a member of an international commission, he met American military men in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. His doubts about communism and its purposes intensified by orders of magnitude in 1968, when the brutal Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia ground the Prague Spring to dust under the treads of Soviet tanks, and in 1970, when the Polish army shot Polish workers during labor strife. Privy to some of the Warsaw Pact’s most confidential strategic plans, he became convinced that, if the Cold War turned hot and the east bloc attacked the West, the Soviets would sacrifice Poland as retaliatory western tactical nuclear strikes hit the second wave of Warsaw Pact troops pushing west. So, in 1972, Kukliński, risking his life and his family’s safety, offered his services to the United States and for the next nine years was the West’s most important intelligence asset behind the iron curtain.

His greatest service to Poland and the cause of freedom came in the later months of 1980. Thanks to his efforts, the United States knew the entire order-of-battle the Soviet Union had organized to stamp out Solidarity, which had held its first formal congress in September 1980. With that information, and working in concert with the incoming Reagan administration, outgoing national security adviser Zbigniew Brzeziński, with the help of the AFL-CIO’s Lane Kirkland, was able to organize a comprehensive western response to a potential Soviet invasion of Poland: an international economic blockade that would have severely damaged the already-staggering Soviet economy. Faced with economic ruin, the Soviet leadership backed down and the Warsaw Pact divisions that had surrounded Poland withdrew.

Colonel Kukliński and his family were exfiltrated to the West; two of his sons later died under dubious circumstances that may have involved Russian retribution, and Kukliński lived out his life under an assumed name in the United States, dying in 2004. There was public controversy when he returned to his native Poland for a 1998 visit, with some charging that he had violated his officer’s oath by working for American intelligence for a decade. John Paul II, through various intermediaries, quietly passed the word that Kukliński was to be regarded in Poland as a national hero. Zbigniew Brzeziński, who held the exact same view, put it brilliantly, in a comment that appears on the Kukliński Memorial in Cracow: Colonel Kukliński was “the first Polish officer in NATO.” 

Communism was a distinctive form of the culture of death, for the effort to create “Homo Sovieticus” was a lethal assault on souls. Colonel Ryszard Kukliński took a courageous stand against that particular culture of death, knowing as he did that freedom is never cost-free: freedom lived nobly always requires sacrifice. His example should be pondered by Catholic citizens and Catholic public officials throughout the West today, who are called to resist, with similar moral courage and effect, that form of the culture of death that masquerades as the ideology of “choice.” May we and our elected officials be as principled and brave as the Polish officer who took what John Paul II described at the United Nations in 1995 as the “the risk of freedom.”