Take a walk through Colorado’s Catholic history

Cathedral backpacking trips to trace the history of the Church in Colorado

Makena Clawson

It’s hard to imagine just 150 years ago, Bishop Joseph Projectus Machebeuf traveled in his covered wagon establishing different mission churches in Colorado. Two other priests, Father J.J. Gibbons and Monsignor Joseph Bosetti, followed Bishop Machebeuf in spreading the faith to the hard to access mountain towns in Colorado.
Now with most Denver residents having multiple Catholic churches within a convenient five-mile radius, there is a renewed curiosity to see how the early Church in Colorado looked.

A New Initiative

TRECC (Trail of Early Colorado Catholicism), a group formed from young adults at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, will take several trips this summer to walk in the footsteps of these men and visit some of the churches they established. Father Ron Cattany, pastor at the Cathedral, will serve as a spiritual guide and history buff to the pilgrims.

“You had these priests who were outdoorsmen by necessity as pioneers to Colorado 150 years ago,” Cattany said “and now we have a new generation of 20 and 30-year-olds who love the outdoors, who love the Colorado mountains, and who love to hike that want to go and explore some of these areas that were critical to the establishment of the Church in Colorado.”

These three men not only touched the Church in Colorado, but each had a personal impact on Father Cattany.
“This was all God’s providence that I began to get a familiarity with each one of these priests,” he said.

Bishop Machebeuf

When thinking of North American Mission churches, Wila Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop might come to mind, or mission churches in New Mexico. But Colorado was also mission territory for these priests traveling from Europe.

Originally from France, Bishop Machebeuf traveled to the West shortly after Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, the protagonist of Cather’s book.

Archbishop Lamy appointed Machebeuf as Vicar Apostolic to Colorado and Utah, after several other assignments in the West. During his 29 years serving the mission churches he traveled more than 250,000 miles on horseback, Father Cattany said.

(File photo)

TRECC is starting with Bishop Machebeuf, the first bishop of Colorado, but also with the bishop’s first mission, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Georgetown, Father Cattany said. He will celebrate Mass at the church, then the group will hike in the Holy Cross area.

“After his death they referred to him as the apostle of Colorado,” Father Cattany said. “He gets here in 1860 and by 1866 he’s already established a mission up in Georgetown.”

Mount Machebeuf, located just east of Loveland Pass, is named after him and is the site of the second TRECC hike on August 3.

Father Gibbons

Farther southwest, Bishop Machebeuf appointed Father J.J. Gibbons to serve the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1880.

Father Cattany realized a personal connection when he discovered Father Gibbons established Presentation of Our Lady, the parish where Father Cattany grew up.

TRECC is saving a pilgrimage tracing Father Gibbons’ footsteps until a later date, since the Sangre de Cristo mountains are at least a four hour drive from Denver.

Monsignor Bosetti

Most recent to shape the Church in Colorado is Monsignor Joseph Bosetti, arriving in 1911. Msgr. Bosetti built a camp for boys, Saint Malo’s in Allenspark. He was also a lover of the opera and started the Grand Opera Company, using its profits to fund Catholic Charities during the Great Depression, Father Cattany said.

“My fascination with Bosetti started years before I even knew that God was calling me to seminary,” Father Cattany said. He collected opera programs and recognized Msgr. Bosetti’s name.

(File photo)

Father Cattany started a Bosetti concert series at the Cathedral after being appointed pastor, a free-of-charge way for people to have access to the arts. These two priests have another connection: Msgr. Bosetti was pastor at the Cathedral Basilica all of his years in Colorado except one.

The third TRECC expedition on August 17 will focus on Msgr. Bosetti, with Mass at the St. Catherine of Sienna Chapel at St. Malo’s and a hike in the surrounding area.

TRECC is collaborating with Creatio on these expeditions. For more information, visit Creatio’s website or email Ben Lehr
at benwlehr@gmail.com.

COMING UP: Five reasons to send your child to summer camp at Annunciation Heights

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Luke Hlavin is the Assistant Program Director at Annunciation Heights.

Summer is quickly approaching.  School will soon be drawing to a close. Alongside the excitement and anticipation that the change in seasons brings, there also comes the perennial question every parent faces: “What is my child going to do to stay busy and active this summer?”  With the ever-present reality of video games and phones dominating every free moment of the day, there are so many things that might fill your child’s free time.

But what if summer could be a time of adventure and transformation, faith and friendship?  What if your child could experience something new and different in the Rocky Mountains, right in your backyard?  With the inaugural season of Annunciation Heights Summer Camp, that indeed could become your child’s reality!

There are at least five ways your child or children could benefit from a week of camp at Annunciation Heights.  Here they are:

1. Adventure in the great outdoors
Annunciation Heights sits in the Tahosa Valley, at the base of Twin Sister’s Mountain, with a full view of Long’s Peak. At this unique location, AH offers your child an opportunity to get outdoors and have some good, old-fashioned fun.  Always mindful of creating a safe and supervised environment in which your child can grow and play, we offer a 40-foot climbing wall, a high ropes adventure course, a 1000-foot zip-line and a hiking trail on the property!   On our lake, we have kayaks and stand-up paddleboards!  Not to mention the amazing day hikes we have planned for our campers!  Your child will truly be able to experience all that the Colorado Rockies have to offer.

2. Growth in friendship
Relationship is at the core of the camp experience! The pace of life is often overwhelming, and at times it is difficult to find time to intentionally deepen friendships. With a week spent sharing the intense and powerful experience of summer camp, deep and lasting friendships easily form and grow, friendships founded on genuine encounter with one another.  Your child just may come out of camp with a lifelong friend.

3. Role-modeling
How better to guide your child’s growth than by putting good role models in their life? This year’s summer staff team is full of faith-filled, energetic, and dedicated men and women excited to spend the summer with your child.  These college student staffers come from all over the country, excited to contribute to the unique mission of Annunciation Heights: to encounter the Creator through the beauty of creation, and to share that with others.  What an opportunity for your child to have an older brother or sister in Christ!

4. Disconnect from technology
Annunciation Heights has the unique privilege of truly being off the grid. Without cell-coverage or Wi-Fi, your child will be encouraged to meet others in direct, personal ways.  While technology can easily become the wall every child or teenager hides behind, here at AH, there are no walls, because there are no phones!  With this comes the real potential for personal encounter with others, with God, and with oneself.

5. Deepening of faith
Most importantly, Annunciation Heights exists to provide a space to deepen one’s relationship with Christ. Each member of the AH family is motivated by a desire to share the love they themselves have received from God with others. The ultimate goal for all involved at Annunciation Heights is that your child walks away from camp a better follower of Christ, more in love with the Church, and more committed to the Christian values at the core of your family life.  Christ is at the center of this camp, and we want Him to be the center of your child’s life.

Yes, this summer can be full to overflowing with all this and more!  It only takes one week for an experience to galvanize the faith and friendships already planted deep within your child’s heart!  It only takes one week to begin a yearly tradition, a tradition that will have life-giving impact on the life of your child and your family. This is indeed our first year, and with it comes the potential for you and your child to help shape and create the culture that will become a mainstay in the Catholic life of the archdiocese.

Annunciation Heights’ staff are getting excited, the mountains are beginning to thaw out, and Annunciation Heights is ready to welcome this year’s campers to a summer unlike any other!  Register today, become a part of the Annunciation Heights family, and discover what summer camp can do for your child, and your family.

Visit annunciationheights.org to register for summer camp.