Lourdes water returns to Denver

Littleton church to open Lourdes Marian Center in January

After a five-year dry spell, water from the famed Lourdes shrine in France is back in Denver.

People can begin getting it next month when the Lourdes Marian Center at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Littleton officially opens. The center is just the fourth U.S. site permitted to distribute water from the spring that the Blessed Virgin Mary helped St. Bernadette Soubirous discover in 1858.

An opening day reception is set at the center, located at 5612 S. Hickory St. in Littleton, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 7, 2017. The event is free, but goodwill offerings will be gladly accepted to offset the $3,300 cost incurred to ship the barrels of water from France and to purchase more water in the future.

“We’ll have small bottles of Lourdes water available,” said parochial vicar Father Joseph Hearty, F.S.S.P., about the 1-ounce bottles the center will distribute for a suggested donation of $2.50.

Father Joseph Hearty assists a parishioner as he fills small 1 oz bottles with water from the Lourdes Shrine in France. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

Father Joseph Hearty assists a parishioner as he fills small 1-ounce bottles with water from the Lourdes Shrine in France.The bottles will be available for a suggested donation of $2.50 beginning Jan. 7. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

The festivities will include light refreshments and talks about the history of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and about the Littleton center’s local predecessor—the Lourdes Marian Center that was run by St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver from 2003-2011.

The new center was announced in 2014, when Father James Jackson, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, received permission for the parish to distribute Lourdes water. But due to a series of miscommunications it took two years to actually begin getting the water, which many believe has healing powers.

On Feb. 8, 1858, Mary, who later identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception,” made the first of 18 appearances over five months to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes. Her message concerned the necessity of prayer and penance for the conversion of peoples. Mary instructed Bernadette to drink from a new spring that appeared at the site and to have a church built there. Today, 5 million pilgrims a year visit the beautiful Lourdes shrine to drink, wash or bathe in the water.

The shrine says the water does not have any special curative properties, but recognizes that God can work through natural elements, prayer and sacraments. The Church has verified 69 miraculous cures linked to the water, although thousands more are claimed.

“This water couldn’t do anything without faith,” asserted St. Bernadette, affirming Church teaching.

The Church authorized a feast commemorating the apparitions and Bernadette, who died as a nun in 1879 and remains incorrupt, was canonized in 1933.

“The purpose of the Lourdes Marian Center is to distribute the water for possible healings and conversions, and to help spread devotion to Our Lady,” Father Hearty said.

Once open, the Lourdes Marian Center will have set hours and, eventually, a website.

Lourdes Marian Center Opening

When: 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 7
Where: Basement of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, 5612 S. Hickory St., Littleton
Lourdes water: 1-oz. bottle for $2.50 donation

COMING UP: Lourdes Marian Center makes comeback

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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.