‘Faith-alive’ Catholics are likely aware of the many titles that have been given to the Blessed Virgin Mary (there’s one right there). Catholics have attributed a great many names and titles to her. And there is no shortage of articles and websites devoted to the titles and background on the Queen of Heaven (number two).
Mary is the:
Bride of Christ (3)
Cause of Our Joy (4)
Immaculate Conception (5)
Ever Virgin (6)
Lady of Good Help (7)
and, Lady of Perpetual Help (8), etc.
Well, you get the idea. There are hundreds of titles for Our Mother. And yet, some of us may not have thought that it has been common over the centuries to dedicate and to name areas for Mary. Once I get started, you might say, “Of course - I just hadn’t thought about what you were leading us to.”
There’s Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Knock, Star of the Sea, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Combermere. What’s that, you ask? Combermere is the rather small town in northern Canada where Madonna House was founded and is still located.
Okay, Deacon Tom - I’ve got it. What’s this about? Well first -- many Catholics have favorite Marian names upon which they center their devotion. For example, there is a contemplative woman who lives alone on a mountain top (at 8,300 ft. elevation!) outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Her cabin and the small, individual retreat houses are referred to by this name of dedication: Our Lady of Tenderness. Isn’t that lovely?
Well, the purpose of all of this is to introduce you to one of the Marian area names and a parish that we belonged to when Dee and I lived in Colorado: it’s called OUR LADY OF THE MOUNTAINS. An architect friend who is a Methodist visited this parish and said that it is a most classic and elegant mountain church.
We lived in this community for just under ten years and we absolutely loved our parish -- our faith home at Our Lady of the Mountains (OLM). It is located near the center crossroads of the town of Estes Park, Colorado. As you can see from the inside view -- it has classic log timber construction. Stained glass windows (designed by Jay Grooters of Mountain Home Stained Glass) were implemented starting about 2006. The most prominent window is dedicated to Our Lady of the Mountains. It shows Blessed Mother Mary with the Rockies behind her, and she is slightly elevated over Colorado wildflowers. I’m not intending this column to be a pitch for the parish - but they do offer a variety of holy cards and postcards and larger prints which show various views of Our Lady of the Mountains. You can reach them at 970-586-8111 or go to their website: www.olmestes.org The pastor is a wonderful priest, Fr. Joe Hartmann, and the Office Pastoral Associate is Shirley Reece. Tell them Deacon Tom sent you :-)
And by the way, if you or your parish is looking to design and implement any stained glass projects, you can contact Jay Grooters at his website: http://jaygrooters.com/
Again - you might smile and say, well that’s all pretty and nice, but I’m not going to go to Estes Park, Colorado. And further, other than a few pictures he included, why did the deacon do this column?
My answer is found in this: we have moved a great deal over our young family years. And as adults, we have continued our moves for one reason or another. Tom is Irish and they say that the folks from the Emerald Isle often are born with restless hearts. True enough for me. For sure.
But with all the lovely and majestic Roman Catholic Cathedrals and Churches that we have been to or have been members of - there is something so beautiful, so touching and so inspiring at the Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Estes Park.
I used to preach all the Masses at least once a month when I was a deacon there. During the summer tourist seasons, our parish was jammed, often with standing room only. We tried to be as welcoming as possible. And yet... and yet -- if it happened once, it must have happened dozens of times. Invariably, I would be outside greeting and thanking parishioners and visitors for being with us. And I would see someone making a determined bee-line to get to my attention.
“This parish is so beautiful. The Mass was so awesome and holy. Is there any way that I can get a copy of the homily for my folks?” That happened often enough that a parishioner finally built a website (found at www.deacontomonline.com ) I’ve put perhaps 75 to 100 homilies and Communion Service reflections on there. Thanks to former parishioner (and tech goddess) Sue Laurent for countless hours of website design and updates. We don’t post much there these days because Dee and I have moved to Arizona. And we started another website: www.catholicvitamins.com There are some more current homilies there, but the Catholic Vitamins site is used for our audio podcasts - a program you can listen to on your computer or download to iPods or other portable media players. We also have a blog (a column we update for each new podcast we produce). The blog is used to give more information about our program guests and the show topic for the week.
I want to close with these words aimed at making Our Lady of the Mountains memorable for your potential vacation planning. For generations, families have come from Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Missouri, etc. They’ve come for summer vacations in the greater Estes Park area. They hike in the Rockies, they take hundreds of pictures of the near-tame elk which often wander the streets of town, and they buy t-shirts and ice cream from a hundred downtown merchants. These folks also come to worship at OLM and many of them have come back later to retire there. Or -- their offspring have come back to be married there. I’ve baptized infants of children, now adults who vacationed in Estes as they themselves grew up.
There is a side of the church building which faces the west, and there is a dramatic view of the Continental Divide. As a resident, I used to start many of my emails with the words: “Greetings from God’s Country.” If you ever get a chance to plan a vacation in the Rockies - I encourage you to include Sunday worship (or weekday morning Mass with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before the Mass) at Our Lady of the Mountains.
Dear Mary -- we honor you in the title: Our Lady of the Mountains. We ask you to continue to smile on the parish, its pastor, the parishioners and the thousands of visitors who come to visit your Son in creation, and then in liturgy and in the Eucharist. Thank you dear Mary for helping us to see and remember that God is such an awesome artist. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Deacon Tom Fox
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!