SOLT arrived in the San Luis Valley in July of 2004 when the men’s Novitiate for the American Region was established at St. Joseph Parish in Capulin, Colorado. For the next five years, the primary mission of the team was to serve the men undergoing formation for their entrance into religious life. In that time, some 24 men passed through Novitiate and made First Promises.
After the Novitiate relocated, the focus of the team’s mission found a new direction in deepening its service to the parish and offering formation to laity who were drawn to our Lady’s family. Currently, we are working with our second group of lay formandi.
St. Joseph Parish is situated just before one reaches the foothills of the San Juan Mountains, which enclose the Valley to the west. It serves four mission churches: Our Lady of the Valley in La Jara, St. Theresa’s in Manassa, Immaculate Conception in Romeo, and San Antonio in Los Sauces. The Valley is home to the descendants of Spanish settlers who arrived from the New Mexico region. Many of the parishioners are ranchers and farmers, raising sheep and cattle, and growing crops such as potatoes, alfalfa, barley, and corn. They have a rich history and Catholic cultural heritage, and from first days of our arrival, have welcomed us with much friendship and hospitality.
The San Luis Valley is a very large alpine valley in south central Colorado. To the east it is enclosed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, from which Mt. Blanca (elev. 14,345 ft.) juts out impressively into the surrounding plain. Another well-known landmark is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The SOLT Colorado core Ecclesial Family Team is currently comprised of Fr. Arturo Añonuevo, Sr. MaryAnn Richwald, Sr. Mary Anna Cavell, Sr. Annmarie Claire Kowalczyk, Sr. Mary Joy Bernklau, and Blair Burton.