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Church's 100th year marked with pride

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2005.08.30 Denver Post: Article Last Updated: 8/30/2005 02:00 AM Church s 100th year marked with pride St. Mary s Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan has
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 3 7:00 AM
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      2005.08.30 Denver Post:

      Article Last Updated: 8/30/2005 02:00 AM

      Church's 100th year marked with pride

      St. Mary's Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan has been
      parishioners' "spiritual guiding light" since 1905.

      By Erin Emery
      Denver Post Staff Writer
      DenverPost.com

      Calhan - In the early days, the parishioners walked or rode in horse
      and buggy, cutting paths across the pastures on the prairie.

      The men wore suits; the women always wore dresses and hats or scarves
      to cover their faces.

      The worn paths led them directly to the front door of St. Mary's Holy
      Dormition Orthodox Church, the striking white building with its
      Byzantine-style cupolas at the crossroads of Calhan and Ramah
      highways in El Paso County, about 35 miles northeast of Colorado
      Springs.

      "It's been the spiritual guiding light," said Beverly Crockett, a
      lifelong member and church historian.

      This month, the church with 96 parishioners is celebrating its 100th
      anniversary.

      "It means everything as far as we're concerned," said Joe Eurich, 78,
      who was baptized in the church in 1927. "Our church comes first."

      Filled with icons and symbols that embody the Eastern Orthodox faith,
      which has origins in the earliest Christian movement, the church
      began in 1905 with a group of immigrants from the Austro- Hungarian
      Empire.

      They came to America to work in the mines in Pennsylvania and then
      moved west to take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862, which
      allowed settlers to farm up to 160 acres. They liked the area,
      because the land resembled the old country where they worked as
      farmers.

      About 5 miles north of Calhan, parishioners built a brick church that
      came to be known by the locals as "The Church on the Hill," because
      it was built on a rise overlooking the valley of the Big Sandy.

      In 1928, the Church on the Hill - and many of its earliest records -
      burned in an arson fire. The church was rebuilt in 1932. At the same
      time, a second church - the current St. Mary's - was built at the
      bottom of the hill. Eventually, parishioners held services in the
      church in the lowland.

      Eurich said he can remember parishioners building St. Mary's by
      hauling lumber to the site on a horse and buggy.

      "We do everything we can by ourselves, and almost everything has been
      done by parishioners," Crockett said. "They put their talents
      together to make it work."

      Each Sunday, parishioners gather in the building to pray for rain, a
      tradition in the church. They have enjoyed countless weddings and
      baptisms and heard the bell ring each time a person is memorialized
      in the church.

      The faithful are buried in the church's nearby cemeteries, St. Mary
      and St. Michael. Each Memorial Day, each of the departed - the same
      who cut a path across the prairie - are prayed for.

      "We're proud of our little church," Eurich said.

      Staff writer Erin Emery can be reached at 719-522-1360 or
      eemery@....
    • Fr John Brian
      Article Last Updated: 08/30/2005 02:00:03 AM Church s 100th year marked with pride St. Mary s Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan has been parishioners
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 5 9:32 AM
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        Article Last Updated: 08/30/2005 02:00:03 AM

        Church's 100th year marked with pride
        St. Mary's Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan has been parishioners'
        “spiritual guiding light” since 1905.
        By Erin Emery
        Denver Post Staff Writer
        http://www.denverpost.com/ci_2984605?rss


        Calhan - In the early days, the parishioners walked or rode in horse and
        buggy, cutting paths across the pastures on the prairie.

        The men wore suits; the women always wore dresses and hats or scarves to
        cover their faces.

        The worn paths led them directly to the front door of St. Mary's Holy
        Dormition Orthodox Church, the striking white building with its
        Byzantine-style cupolas at the crossroads of Calhan and Ramah highways in El
        Paso County, about 35 miles northeast of Colorado Springs.

        "It's been the spiritual guiding light," said Beverly Crockett, a lifelong
        member and church historian.

        This month, the church with 96 parishioners is celebrating its 100th
        anniversary.

        "It means everything as far as we're concerned," said Joe Eurich, 78, who
        was baptized in the church in 1927. "Our church comes first."

        Filled with icons and symbols that embody the Eastern Orthodox faith, which
        has origins in the earliest Christian movement, the church began in 1905
        with a group of immigrants from the Austro- Hungarian Empire.

        They came to America to work in the mines in Pennsylvania and then moved
        west to take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed settlers
        to farm up to 160 acres. They liked the area, because the land resembled the
        old country where they worked as farmers.

        About 5 miles north of Calhan, parishioners built a brick church that came
        to be known by the locals as "The Church on the Hill," because it was built
        on a rise overlooking the valley of the Big Sandy.

        In 1928, the Church on the Hill - and many of its earliest records - burned
        in an arson fire. The church was rebuilt in 1932. At the same time, a second
        church - the current St. Mary's - was built at the bottom of the hill.
        Eventually, parishioners held services in the church in the lowland.

        Eurich said he can remember parishioners building St. Mary's by hauling
        lumber to the site on a horse and buggy.

        "We do everything we can by ourselves, and almost everything has been done
        by parishioners," Crockett said. "They put their talents together to make it
        work."

        Each Sunday, parishioners gather in the building to pray for rain, a
        tradition in the church. They have enjoyed countless weddings and baptisms
        and heard the bell ring each time a person is memorialized in the church.

        The faithful are buried in the church's nearby cemeteries, St. Mary and St.
        Michael. Each Memorial Day, each of the departed - the same who cut a path
        across the prairie - are prayed for.

        "We're proud of our little church," Eurich said.

        Staff writer Erin Emery can be reached at 719-522-1360 or
        eemery@....
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