St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen is preparing for a landmark celebration of its 140th anniversary. A weekend of activities will include a teen night out on Friday August 26th and a family barbecue picnic on Saturday August 27th. Both days will feature a talk by internationally renowned Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick, as well as food, including our famous St. Patrick’s Day Coleslaw and lawn games, like Dunk the Priest.
The celebration is open to all teens and families in the community and is free. Registration can be found at stmaryaspen.org or in our church lobby.
St. Mary’s Parish was founded during the early years of Aspen, when this community was just a small mining camp carving out a future for itself in a remote and unforgiving wilderness. The parish community was made up of men and women endowed with indomitable spirits: the missionary priests who wandered the West, the tough miners and their families, and the adventurers who came to make their fortunes.
Many settlers amassed and then lost great wealth overnight. Other lives ended in premature death in the mines or at the hands of the harsh climate.
Our history dates back to July 3, 1881, when the very first Mass offered in this valley was celebrated by Father Harney in the Aspen Times building, and was attended by a small gathering of Aspen’s earliest miners and settlers.
Our first pastors, Father Harney and Father McCarthy, were assigned to Gunnison Parish, which included Aspen and served the Aspen Mission in 1881 and 1882. They formed a building committee to raise funds for the construction of our first church on Main Street, known as St. Stephen’s Church. The church we know today as St. Mary was built later in 1892.
Our future is waiting to be written, but we are certain: at the end of the 21st century and far beyond, the people of St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be engaged in the same wonderful work that occupied the first parishioners in 1881 – proclaiming Jesus Christ to our great-great-grandchildren living in this most special place.
Father Darrick Leier
Pastor, St. Mary’s Catholic Church