St. John Celebrated in La Garita
The San Juan Catholic Community will celebrate “El Dia de San Juan” (Feast Day of St John the Baptist) tomorrow, Saturday June 24 in La Garita. Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. in Saint John the Baptist Church located at the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center. Refreshment and fellowship will follow.
For readers unfamiliar with the center, it is a unique 10-acre site that offers a historical view of cultural traditions and a Catholic way of life brought from old Spain by the first Hispano settlers who traveled to the Spanish northern frontier from New Mexico.
As noted on the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center’s website, it’s a place of panoramic beauty, in the northern portion of the San Luis Valley, protected by the rugged San Juan Mountain Range to the west and looks across the vast valley floor towards the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.
As a visitor, you can trace the path of the Hispano settlers when you see St. John the Baptist Catholic Church (Iglesia de San Juan Bautista); as you pause at the site of the ruins of the old convento, now a monument dedicated to San Juan Bautista (Casa de Cura/Convento); as you wander through the rows of graves in the Carnero Creek Cemetery (Cemetario del Carnero) you can see family inscriptions and old gravesite markers; and finally, as you look upon a recent addition to the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, a Rosary Walk dedicated to Saint John Paul II.
And if you like scenic natural beauty to accompany your spiritual quests, then the view from the “top of the hill” will not disappoint.
In 2007, a revitalization of the church and the surrounding property was inspired and guided by Father Joseph Vigil of the San Juan Catholic Community. Through his efforts, a renewed pride emerged for the treasure and beauty of the tradition and history of the church. As a result, the interior of the church has been restored, and the grounds now include walkways, a monument dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and a rosary walk dedicated to St. John Paul II. Collectively these comprise the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, dedicated to the courageous Hispano people who settled in La Garita and to the Priests and Sisters that supported them in their Catholic faith. It is also dedicated to the Penitentes who helped keep the Catholic faith alive in the absence of priests during the early settlement.
So if there are any Saguache Today readers who are looking for a “place of peace, prayer and reflection in the San Luis Valley,” head toward La Garita and the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center and celebrate the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist on June 24.