Lourdes Marian Center makes comeback

Littleton parish to reopen apostolate to distribute water from famed shrine in France

The miracle lies in having faith.

But there’s something in the Lourdes water that got Denver believers to beg for its return.

Their prayers came true July 16 when a small gathering of familiar volunteers joined Father Joseph Hearty, F.S.S.P., as he blessed the site of the new Lourdes Marian Center, reopened after a three-year hiatus.

“I’m just thrilled. We’ve been waiting for so long,” said volunteer Joyce Brooks, who added that she cried at hearing the news.

Now housed at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Littleton, the center will be the fourth in the United States approved to distribute water from the shrine in Lourdes, France, where 156 years ago Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant. In one appearance, Mary asked the young girl to dig in the ground near a grotto where a spring came forth. Millions of pilgrims flock to the grotto every year to receive the water, believed to have healing powers.A basket holds vials of water from the Lourdes Shrine in France.

The benefits to believers made it an easy decision to request its reopening, said Father Hearty, parochial vicar of the church.

“Because of the miracles of Our Lady of Lourdes water, how much people benefit from it spiritually, and even temporally, I think it’s important to maintain or reopen the center so people will make use of the water that was given to us by the Virgin Mary,” he said.

Discussions began on reopening the site in October 2013 and Archbishop Samuel Aquila officially approved it June 24.

The original Denver center was spearheaded by former St. Vincent de Paul Church pastor Father Michael Walsh, who opened the Tudor-style structure nearby with the mission of promoting Marian devotion. It was dedicated January 2003 by former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput.

By 2008, the center touted a distribution of some 90,000 vials of water.It closed in 2011.

Now, in the same spirit of love and devotion of those who opened the original center, Mount Carmel Church and center volunteers are ready to pick up where the former center ended and to work to promote the message of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was an urgent call to prayer and penance.

Volunteer Bob Higginbotham said he anxiously awaited its reopening. After watching the 1943 movie “The Song of Bernadette,” he became attached to Mary, who he said “has been so good to me.”

He joined Dick Altman, known for hand-filling the 1-ounce vials of Lourdes water, and Bud Kraeft, who designed a machine to auto-fill vials with water.

The center will order more Lourdes water in 30-some gallon drums that will travel by boat and truck to reach Denver.

The center is not taking orders for vials, but will announce when it is ready, Father Hearty said.

As Father Walsh once told the volunteers, miracles will happen with “a drop of Lourdes water and a gallon of faith.



COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash