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Beatification celebration of Pope John Paul II, dedication of the Father John Bowe Prayer Garden

As one of only two parishes in the United States with Pope John Paul II as the patron, the Archuleta County Catholic Community can be proud of the Pope’s beatification on May 1, 2011.

Pope John Paul II Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs is celebrating this historic event on Saturday, May 21.

Another milestone for the parish was reached on Good Friday, April 22, with the completion of the Father John Bowe Prayer Garden with Stations of the Cross. More than 70 parishioners made a pilgrimage from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to the JP II Church. When they arrived, others joined, and all prayed the Stations for the first time, led by Father Carlos Alvarez. This was followed by Good Friday Mass.

The fourteen bronze figures, representing each Station of the Cross, were begun in 2003 by local artist and sculptor Roberto Garcia, and completed in 2008. Presently Roberto is a full time sculptor and painter. All work was done by the artist, including the bronze casting.

Either individual Stations or complete sets can be purchased from Roberto through the Knights of Columbus (970) 731-5744.

Garcia will give a free public lecture on the bronze casting process at 3 p.m. on the church grounds. Everyone is invited to attend to learn about this intriguing artistic process.

During the same period, a bronze bust of Father John Bowe was completed by Roberto’s wife, Ana Garcia. While the majority of Ana’s work is influenced by wildlife, she has recently begun work with bronze portraiture. She completed the Father John Bowe bust in 2008. Father John Bowe saw the bust before he died in August, 2008.

Both Roberto’s and Ana’s art can be viewed on their website

Since the Father John Bowe Prayer Garden project began in 2003, John O’Brien, a parishioner, has served as project manager. In the spring of 2009, work began in preparation for the placement of the bronze statue pedestals. This involved the clearing of an area behind the church and entailed many hours of parish volunteers’ work. During the final stages of the new church construction, New Mark Landscape was a major contributor to the beauty of the church as evidenced by the stonework and landscape.

Wherever one looks, either inside or outside the church, J.D. Deilgat, Lisa Jerez, and their crew’s talents are apparent. They were an easy choice for the design and building of the pedestals for the Stations of the Cross, starting in May 2010. Each of the pedestals was designed by J.D. with the eye of an artist, and in tune with the symbolic meaning of that particular station.

The Prayer Garden is in a natural setting with benches that are conveniently placed for rest and meditation. New Mark Landscape projects can be viewed on their website

Bishop Fernando Isern will dedicate the Father John Bowe Prayer Garden at 4 p.m. on May 21, followed by the Stations of the Cross. He will preside over the Mass at 5. A special dinner will be served after Mass by our Polish parishioners, in honor of this proud occasion. Donations for the dinner will be given to Life Teen for their trip to Steubenville in San Diego, Calif., later this summer.

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