There is a point in the life of every Catholic growing up in the modern era where they decide whether they want to try and do the Catholic thing. You know, like going to Mass on Sundays and eating fish on Fridays during Lent. It can be challenging to live Catholicism in everyday life but oh how it is so worth it.
Many times in my life have I been musing through the airport security going about the motions when I started to think. The thinking part was usually quite an impressive feat as I probably had not had coffee yet. There was one time in the Denver airport when I began to think and realized I had left my passport at home before I was about to leave for Israel. Quite embarrassing.
There was another time I began to think in the Atlanta airport and realized that I would probably not be able to go mass (it was a Sunday) because I would be traveling all of the day. Unlike the passport incident, I did not have enough time to go home to get what I was missing. I started thinking even more – don’t airports have chapels? I thought I had passed an airport chapel once. Maybe the chapels have websites? I started using Google to search.
Although there are a few websites out there to help people navigate airport chapels, they all look like they were started around the time MySpace was beginning. I wanted to make a navigable easy to use tool to see whether or an airport had mass or not.
Using Google MyMaps, I imported a CSV file of airport data released into the public domain from http://ourairports.com/data/. Pretty incredible how much time was put into making that thing. I looked at the top 25 or so airports travelled in the US every year and added some information on whether or not you will be able to make mass at these chapels. I hope this is useful for a few people and if you have additional mass times you would like to add or information that needs to be corrected, please leave a comment!
I created a map detailing where Hispanics live in Denver using public census data. I have always been curious to know since living in Sheridan (west of Englewood), a highly hispanic area. The darker the shade, the greater the percentage of Hispanics that live there. I hope you enjoy it!
When I first started studying Colorado mining camps-turned-ghost towns that emerged overnight throughout the state, I quickly noticed an interesting trend in all these places which I completely did not expect – they all had newspapers. Eager for security and desiring to set a future for their small settlement, early miners quickly went about building institutions that would show that their camp would be a lasting town. Of course the local bar would go up first, but then schools and churches would follow. Then a critical juncture would come about where the miners would say to themselves: “we need a newspaper that espouses our ideals of the town.” And therefore there are a vast amount of newspapers that were created by the people in these ghost towns: the St. Elmo Mountaineer, theMontezuma Millrun, and the Twin Lakes Minerare just a few. The newspaper had the capacity to unite a town with the local news and gossip, talk about local business, all of the political news, etc etc. More importantly, back then and today a newspaper would represent and espouse the ideals of the community. They gave a voice to the people with the careful editing and precision of a good editorial board.
Which is why it saddens me so much to see the Denver Post in such a disastrous state. For those that are unaware, the 125-year old Denver Post has been owned for the last few years by Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund. The damage done to the Denver Post by the current owners is described in the now famous Denver Post editorial “As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved“.
The problem is, I really don’t think it can be saved. Even the mayor of Denver said it. Someone would need to buy the Denver Post from their current owners. And I highly, highly doubt that will happen. A group of nice people with wishful thinking in Colorado Springs (I know, why would people in the Springs care about Denver news? But they actually do) have begun fundraising to buy the paper – or at least put a down deposit on it.
As hard and awful and this may sound, especially for the great journalist who work for the paper, it is looking more and more like the Denver Post will (and should) die. A newspaper with such a lack of leadership from the owners should not be allowed to operate. The people of the mile-high city deserve good quality news, and it is certainly not going to be coming from the Denver Post as time goes on as the cuts grow deeper in the editorial staff. They won’t be getting my money anymore – I cancelled my subscription last week. (I know, you must be thinking – a millennial paid for a newspaper subscription? But yes, it is true. Rather, it was true.)
When the Denver Post does die, will the city be left without a newspaper? Probably. I think what will probably happen is that the Denver Post will eventually turn into an online-only news source, and then maybe it will survive there. My hope is that the people of Denver will build up enough momentum for another newspaper to take its place. As much as I would love to see the Rocky Mountain News come back, that is doubtful as the name is probably still owned by Alden Capital because they at one point took control of the Rocky Mountain News. If I got to name it I think I would like something like the Denver Press. My roommate likes the Denver Journal.We both liked the Denver Pinecone.Regardless of the name, I hope that a newspaper will be born again just like in the early mining days that gives the people a clear voice of their town – reminding the people of who they are and what they will fight for.
Anyone that has hiked along the Appalachian Trail (AT) knows about those little shelters that are dotted along the entire trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy estimates there are over 250 backcountry shelters throughout the trail. These unique little shelters offer the backcountry pilgrim a nice little refuge in the middle of nowhere.
This pondering of shelters led me to an idea. My dream has always been for the Chimayó pilgrimage in New Mexico to be something like the camino de Santiago in Spain – full of life, piety, food, culture, friendship, and of course pilgrims walking. Pilgrims need to stay somewhere, right? Along the camino in Spain, they have those little albergues or hostiles where pilgrims can stay. Those things usually have all the necessities – showers, maybe dinner, etc etc. These shelters require a few people to run and can be a big operation! Unfortunately, the Chimayó pilgrimage just isn’t there – there aren’t enough pilgrims for someone to make a living from running a hostile.
So I started thinking….what if we built some A-frame shelters such as the ones on the Appalachian Trail on the Chimayó pilgrimage? How much would it cost? What would be required to do that? How would you maintain them?
Let’s start with the cost (just for materials):
The cost of building a small cabin/shelter can have a pretty big range, but we want our goal to be as cheap as possible. Without searching too much, I found some tiny home builders who provide the materials for the home below for $3000. I found some other places online that said you could build something decent for around $1500.
Where would we build it?
You can forget about building it on National Forest property – there is simply too much red tape to doing anything like that in the National Forest, unless you live in Colorado where new shelters or “huts” are being built. But for the time being, it will be difficult to do with our friends at the Natl Forest. So this means it must be built on private property.
Now, obviously you need much land to build the shelter. After all, it is extremely small! So you don’t need 5 acres. But land regardless can be very expensive. After looking at the usual places online where you can buy land, I think the best option for the place to build it will be either on church property or a “friend of Chimayó” – someone who has some extra property they would be willing to allow the shelter to be built. It would be prohibitive to do anything else.
What about permits?
We live in the United States of America, the country of freedom and laws. In most places, you can’t just build a shelter – it needs to be approved and meet building code and permitting requirements. However the nice thing is that many of the counties are rural and don’t have as many requirements than say Denver. As an example, I was looking the other day through Rio Arriba County’s Planning and Zoning website but the “planning and zoning” ordinances document link is broken on their website. I have reached out several times to the Zoning contacts on their website but none have gotten back to me – will update if they do.
Who will take care of the shelters?
There exists many different volunteer organizations that clean and maintain the shelters along the AT and I envision something very similar to the Chimayó pilgrimage. This would hopefully be done through local support!
Well, these are just a few more ideas for the Chimayó pilgrimage that I continue to add to the ideas that continue to brew in my head. Leave a comment if you have anything you would like to add to the conversation.
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a Creatio hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail (AT) for the LifeTeen Young Adult Conference. I have to admit – because I had climbed twelve 14,000 ft peaks in Colorado this summer, I thought it was going to be a walk in the park. But one forgets about the humidity – and mosquitoes. Thank you Colorado.
While walking, I made a few reflections about the AT which I would like to share. Before I share those, some quick statistics on the AT:
Distance of the AT = 2200 miles (more or less), changes slightly every year due to trail maintenance / reroutes
3,735 people attempted to walk the entire AT in 2017 (these people are called thru-hikers)
Only 20 percent of the people who attempt to walk the entire AT actually do it
The # of people walking the AT continues to increase greatly every year. 2,000+ more people attempted to thru-hike the AT from 2010 to 2017 (155% increase)
People hike the AT for different reasons, but a common theme can be found amidst the reasons people gave here – that people desire something greater than what secular life has to offer. Of course, there are many people who simply walk to “prove they can do it” or an physical challenge such as losing weight. On the flip side, most people walk the AT trying to answer the deeper questions of life, such as discerning what to do in life, dealing with a tragedy, not finding peace, etc. As I was walking, I thought: does the Appalachian Trail provide answers to people seeking meaning in life?
For starters, the AT has much to offer: community along the trail, silence, simplicity, and the opportunity to encounter nature. The setting provides a space for seekers to recall how they have lived their life, almost like an extended retreat. Walking along the AT for many months can make a person encounter themselves and form a desire to answer the big questions of life.
One thing I saw only vaguely on the AT was spiritual support that guided travelers in their long walk. In general, people seem to be “on their own” to the questions that they are searching answers for. As a Christian and a Catholic, I believe we ought to do more to guide these pilgrims on their journey!
Let’s take a step back and do a Google search. Googling “Appalachian trail catholic” yields many interesting things, the primary inquiry being people searching for ways to get to mass while walking the AT.
This post and many others reveal that not only are there many Catholics on the AT, but that they are also attempting to live their faith out. Are we as Catholics doing enough to reach out to those on the AT, especially the Catholics that walk it? Some google searches did not reveal many Catholic ministries on the AT – but perhaps there are more that I couldn’t find. I immediately think of many things that could be done to support the spiritual needs of pilgrims. For example: how great it would be to have a small Catholic chapel on the AT for weary pilgrims to lay down their burdens to the Lord!
As a starter, I have modified an existing Google custom map of the entire AT and added a “Catholic” layer with many different Catholic churches along the way. I haven’t added mass times because that would be a much greater time investment but maybe if some folks wanted to help out that could happen pretty easily. Please share your ideas below!
In addition, there have been many other creative initiatives for sharing the faith on the AT. For example: the oldest hostel on the Appalachian Trail is located in the basement of the Church of the Mountain in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. Regarding their unique way of evangelizing those on the trail, the pastor at Church of the Mountain said: “A hiker is typically quite open to some very big conversations because I think being on the trail lends itself to contemplative thinking, meditation, asking yourself the big questions… You don’t have the same distractions on the trail that you have in everyday life.”
I think many good things can improve the spiritual experience hikers have while walking on the AT. The New Evangelization calls us to share our faith in new and creative ways. Many of the people who walk along the AT are seeking answers and Christians can walk with them on their journey. Christian ought to give their time and energy to supporting the spiritual needs of these travelers on their path.
I thought about making this a longer post, but thought I would straight to the point. You know, so millennials will actual read it.
Many people nowadays know the frustrating experience of trying to have a conversation in a bar or restaurant and being distracted by TVs there. Some people don’t seem to be distracted by TVs while hanging out, and I am quite impressed by that. But for most people, the TV makes us less present in our conversations and tempts us to remove the focus from my friend whom I am hanging out with to that episode of The Office playing on the 52″ TV.
As I much as I like Steve Carrell, I am not hanging out with Steve right now. I came here to hang out with someone else! We live in such a world of distractions and really need to ask ourselves: am I truly encountering the other, or are distractions getting in the way?
As an aside, I am not totally against TV’s in bars/restaurants. Many times have I gone to watch an Auburn or Notre Dame game at the Irish Snug or Blake Street Tavern with friends. In this case, our intentions were different – we went to watch a football game together, as compared with watching The Office over my friend’s shoulders.
In any case, if you are interested in going to bars without TV’s, you can find a list below. I am trusting Yelp for a lot of these….so if find a mistake/have some more to add, please let me know.
Actual Yelp Review: “Historic, burgers, and drinks…sign me up! But really though…there IS such a thing as an old fashioned burger and this joint HAS it. I am never disappointed and always wanting to return.”
Vine Street Pub & Brewery [Pub]
1700 Vine St
Denver, CO 80206 Actual Yelp Review: “On bartender’s advice I ordered some the freshest french fries I’ve ever had. Good beers on tap”
Actual Yelp Review: “Wherever you live (outside of Colorado) if you’re lucky enough to see a beer by Great Divide then you’re excited to order a Yeti. However, once at the actually brewery when you ask for a Yeti they reply, “Which one? We have four.” Four! Now you know you’re drinking at the brewery!”
Actual Yelp Review: A real bar with solid drinks, great bartenders (esp Andy), no TVs, and an amazing juke box. Bros and yoga pants are few and far between, too. Thanks for making the Highlands cool again
Hudson Hill [Cocktail Bar]
619 E 13th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
Actual Yelp Review: “Understated warm design and no TV. Two top shelves offering a superb selection. Classic vinyl spins to make the atmosphere I love to suspend time in.”
Union Lodge No. 1 [Cocktail Bar]
1543 Champa St
Denver, CO 80202 Actual Yelp Review: “This spot is charming, small, artisan, and expensive. The menu can be read like a book. They focus on the turn of the century pre-prohibition era of American drinks. There’s a drink for every taste, however, they don’t carry vodka! Very pre prohibition American of them.”
Restaurants with no TVS
Dos Santos [Mexican]
1475 E 17th Ave
Denver, CO 80218 Actual Yelp Review: “I like to be surprised. Dos Santos did that. Dropped in before the YEE across the street. Regrets immediately ensued after I tried their Cochinita Pibil taco. I wanted to kick myself right there and then. What took me so long to check this place out?”
Actual Yelp Review: “Really fantastic multi-concept space. This location is not only a coffee destination but also a restaurant and bar. Their pastry case was mouth watering and overwhelming as it brimmed with golden brown options.”
As many know, I am fascinated with the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo. The beautiful pilgrimage to the site of a miracle continues to gather more people every year. I regularly invite people to go and pray at the little capella where the miracle happaned. However, I also love to bring people along on pilgrimage for another reason: to see and experience northern New Mexican culture influenced by deep Catholic roots and rural life. I continue to work on finding new pilgrimage trails to the santuario de Chimayo. Today I am going to discuss the adventure of uncovering old trails to Chimayo and share a little history along with it.
Before Highway-76 “The High Road to Taos” was constructed in Northern New Mexico, many of the outlying villagers had no paved roads that connected their towns to the bigger cities like Espanola and Taos. When the hispanos arrived to the area, they found many trails going up and down the valley which had been used by Native Americans in the past.
Don Usner mentions in his book Sabino’s Map that traders would come and go from Chimayo to Truchas and other mountain towns using the Cañada Ancha. A cañada can be translated as a small valley, narrow pass, or ravine. Don Usner writes:
“This was the cañada that my grandma and her father followed by wagon on their arduous way to tend wheat grown high on the Llano Abeyta near Truchas. The people of Picuris Pueblos also used the Cañada Ancha route when they passed through Chimayó, stopping at the Santuario before continuing on to Santa Clara for feast days (Sabino’s Map, 20).
In a previous blog post, I wrote about exploring this trail from Truchas to Chimayó which was so often used decades ago. The trail now resides mostly in BLM land and is very isolated, with little cell-phone service.
Using USGS maps, I have developed trails maps for walking on this once used trading trail along the Cañada Ancha. I recommend starting from Truchas to Chimayó due to the elevation profile.
As with any hiking trip, prepare well and be aware that this an isolated area with few resources to help you if you get in trouble. The route goes through the badlands of New Mexico and you can find rattlesnakes here, although I have never seen one. There isn’t any cell-phone service either – so know what you are doing before you walk this. It was a lot of fun learning about this route and I look forward to finding new ones.
Okay, I admit it. I am fascinated by pilgrimages. For those who know me, things like the Chimayo pilgrimage in northern New Mexico fascinate me. The breath-taking 200 year old pilgrimage in the Sangre de Cristo range has an enormous amount of history, faith, and culture present.
And then, out of nowhere, I thought of Bishop Machebeuf, the first Bishop of Denver. Born in southern France, he discerned God’s will to become a priest. He later made what he called the second most important decision in his life (the first being a priest) – to become a missionary priest here in the States. After a dramatic farewell with his family, he arrived in New York and made his way to northern Ohio.
After many years, he was then sent out to serve the Church in Colorado and New Mexico. The sheer size of the territory he was assigned to was apostolically demanding. Machebeuf gave his entire life to serving the Church by travelling constantly to the mining missions, pueblos, and other scattered towns. I could say more of his travels, but a quote from his biographer will suffice for now:
“For these trips Father Machebeuf had to provide his own means of travel. He generally gave up horseback riding and used his heavy buggy. It was of a peculiar shape, with square top, side curtains, a half curtain in front to be let down in cases of storms, and a rack behind for heavy luggage. It was not long before it was known in every camp, and the sight of it was sufficient notice to the people that the priest had come. Stowed away in this he carried his vestments for mass, his bedding, grain for his horses, his own provisions and his frying pan and coffee pot. It was a movable home, and it made him independent of hotel accommodations and free to stop where night overtook him. It was also a movable church for him, and many a time, for want of any other roof, he set up his little altar on the rack at the rear of this buggy and offered the Holy Sacrifice under the dome of heaven. It was the primitive chapel car, — less perfect than its modern successor in non-essentials but more perfect in the essentials” (Life of the Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf, pages 295-296)
If a Colorado pilgrimage were to be born here, it is my opinion that the pilgrimage would follow the pioneer priest’s winding routes throughout the state of Colorado. Now, because I am an engineer and love planning things, I have come up with a “pilgrimage route”. Maybe some of those crazy Catholic hikers at Creatio will lead some hikes on this one day. However I admit that it is a draft and I am confident that there are things that could be improved such as choosing a better trail. Some of the proposed trail goes along the Continental Divide trail (otherwise known as the Colorado Trail). Please leave some comments on what you think!
Rough draft route of Machebeuf Pilgrimage (roughly 456 miles). Approx one month to walk. San Luis to Denver. Map at the bottom.
Please note that all quotes come from his biography, with the page #.
1 – Start at San Luis, Colorado at the Stations of the Cross shrine on the mesa. San Luis is Colorado’s oldest town.
“The next day the journey was long, but we arrived at San Luis de la Culebra in time for the first vespers of the patronal feast of the village. There was an illumination of pitch pine fires for the evening services, and in the morning there was a high mass and a procession by a happy lot of people in most gaudy attire. Then came the games, — horse-racing, foot-racing, burlesque dances, a short comedy, and other innocent sports, all in the open air and enlivened by a band of music.” Page 300
2 – Fort Garland.
“Sept 1868 – “From Saguache he went to Fort Garland, and then wandered about in different directions for ten days to visit every hamlet and settlement in that part of the valley. At every place the people gave him a little reception of welcome, and frequently this took place in the middle of the road, because there was no room in their little cabins for such a ceremony. He put them to no trouble about lodging him, unless when he came to the house of some Don, for he carried his usual camp furniture with him, including even his shaving utensils which he often used while making his camp toilet.” Page 347-348
3 – Alamosa
4 – Saguache
Sept 1868 – “The Bishop divided his little stock of provisions very sparingly with the chief and proceeded on his journey, which lay this time up the South Arkansas river, across the Poncha Pass and down into the head of the San Luis valley in the direction of Saguache.” Page 347-348
5 – Camp along Continental Divide Trail
6 – Poncha Springs
7 – Buena Vista
8 – Twin Lakes, CO / Cache Creek mining camp nearby
“Aug 12, 1867: Monday.— Ditto. Mass. Eec’d, $5.00. Go to Dayton. No mass. Lecture on Papal Supremacy.” Page 330. [Twin Lakes was originally called Dayton]
Aug 13, 1867: Tuesday. — Cache Creek. No mass. RecM, $0.00. Wednesday. — At Frank Mayor’s. Mass. Marriage. RecM, $5.00. – page 330
9 – Leadville
“Sept 22, 1878: Very Dear Sister: I have just returned from a second trip of six weeks among the highest mountains that I have visited in Colorado. They are in the southwestern part of the state near the borders of New Mexico, and many new mines have been opened among them. I was there at the end of April, but I could not visit all of them then on account of the deep snow. I then turned in another direction and went to the new town of Leadville, which has now 25,000 inhabitants. There is but one church there, and it is entirely too small. While I was preaching the people filled the church, stood upon the platform of the altar, and even out in the streets, although a heavy snow was falling, and it was in the month of May. The priest has begun a large church and will convert the old one — only a year old!— into a school. He built a hospital and it was too small before it was plastered, and he was obliged to make it twice as large. There are seven Sisters in it, but the work is too heavy for so few, and the Superior has fallen seriously ill.” Page 389
10 – Alma / Montgomery and Magnolia Mine area
“”Aug 8th 1867. Thursday.— Go to Montgomery. No mass. Rec’d $0.00”. Page 330. “
11 – Breckenridge / French Gulch mining camp
Aug 3, 1867 “Monday. — Mass at Breckenridge. $25. French
Gulch, $18. Paid blacksmith, $1.25.” Page 330
“A trip to the camps around Central City would include Fall River, Spanish Bar and adjacent districts, and a trip to the South Park meant the Tarryall district with Buckskin Joe, Fairplay, etc., and a possible run over the range into Breckenridge, or it might be diverted around by Trout Creek and up the Arkansas through various camps to Cache Creek, Dayton, and the Colorado, Iowa and California gulches, and even beyond. Then again, there were the trips towards the south to Colorado City, Pueblo, Canon City and the Mexican settlements.” Page 295
12 – Silverthorne
13 – Walk along continental divide trail, summit Mount Machebeuf
14 – Central City
“Besides the principal parish, established at Denver, we have begun another in the center of the mountains forty miles from here at a place called Central City. Next Sunday I shall go there and say mass for the first time in our temporary church. After a few days there I shall set out on my eighth trip across the South and Middle Parks. Although I have to cross the highest range of mountains several times to visit our poor Catholics, who are almost buried alive in the depths of the mines, I have always preserved my good health. Providence has given me strength in proportion to my work.”
quite a funny story: Machebeuf builds a church in Central City: “He urged the matter upon his people at each visit, but nothing was done until he resorted to heroic measures. One Sunday at the close of the mass he had the doors locked and the keys brought to him at the altar. Then he declared that no one would be permitted to leave the hall until the question of a church was settled. The first man to respond with a donation was John B. Fitzpatrick, a mine superintendent and a practical Catholic. Others followed, and in a short time the possession of a church of their own was assured. In a few days a two-story frame house was bought and men were set to work fitting it up as a church and a residence for a priest.” Page 296-297
15 – along trail
16 – Mother Cabrini Shrine
END – 17 – Enter Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Denver, CO