Miscellaneous Historical Facts — Our Lady of the Assumption Parish

The following text is a compilation of information about donations, event dates, persons responsible for various projects, facts about parish priests, stories, etc. There didn’t seem to be a reasonable way to put all these facts into a story so they are presented here so that the information is not lost. Details under the various pastors are repeated on the History of Assumption Parish Pastors.

J.P. Falkenberg, was the instigator of the building of the original church.

“SILVER CLIFFE… a fine structure, neatly finished, & beautifully ornamented with altar furniture & paintings. The only plastered edifice in the City. Congregation was large & wealthy. Fr. Finneran, the resident priest is noted for his zeal & liberality and is beloved by his parishioners. The church had an excellent organ, proportioned to the church building, has also a well drilled choir & in a flourishing condition.” (Located in book History of Arkansas Valley CO., 1881 History of Custer County by Richard Irwin, 1881, at Custer County Library – Westcliffe.

“SILVERCLIFFE… Catholic Church of the Assumption – located on DeWalt St. – between Broadway & 1st.  Rev F. C. Bigelow, Pastor.  Masses @ 10:30 a.m. , Sunday School at 3:00 p.m., & Vespers at 7:30 p.m. every Sunday.”  (Info from Silvercliff Directory dated 1881 – page 12)

Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church was moved from the east side of Silver Cliff to the corner of Highway 69 and Hermit Road, and after several years of occupancy there, was moved in 1932? to its present location on the NE corner of Fifth Street and Rosita Avenue.
(from a handmade book called `HISTORIES’, full of  various stories of the Valley and its’ original homesteaders. No author or date mentioned)

Wanda Schneider (Mary Kattnig’s sister): “According to my memory the church was moved to Westcliffe where it is now in 1932. It was moved by horses and took several days. Before it was moved the tower was on the front of the church and the house a short ways behind the church. As to the fire in about 1937, I think I am one of the few who really knows how it started. The second story of the house was being made into a hall. George Conner’s dad was fixing the floor. George and I were helping. We were putting a fine ground mixture into the cracks of the floor. When we finished that afternoon about 5:00 p.m. we swept what we were putting in the cracks into a pile and left. Early the next morning the pile caught on fire. It had flammable material in the filling. It burned a hole through the hall floor and dropped into the first floor. There was damage to the building but most was sucked up the tower. The fire alarm went off about 6:30 a.m. That had to be about 1937.”

1935 — Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico & the Diocese of El Paso, Texas were included in the Province of Santa Fe. Pueblo was not included in the Official Catholic Directory dated 1935. Custer County was included in the Pueblo Deanery which is included in the Denver Diocese. Westcliffe – Assumption of the BVM,  Maurius Zabolitski, OSB (Holy Cross Abby, Canon City)

1941— Pueblo was still considered to be in the Diocese of Denver and was listed as a Deanery

July 23, 1942 — Denver Catholic Register showed Westcliffe donation of $3.75 for Peter’s Pence Offering. Mass schedules – Westcliffe  8:30 a.m. – first & fourth Sundays – 10:30 a.m.– second, third, & fifth Sundays

DCCW active in 1942 — organizational meeting held October 1, 1942 in Pueblo

1945 — Pueblo was erected a Diocese on November 15, 1941. Westcliffe – OLOA listed – Rev Vincent Peter OSB, Administrator. Silver Park – Sacred Heart of Mary was listed as a Mission


Sacred Heart of Mary Mission Church— The Church was eventually torn down and the site presently is owned by parishioner Margaret Locarnni. Site is about one-half mile east of where Rosita Road (CR-328) terminates into CO-96.


1890 — First Set Stations of the Cross

Various Altars in Use in Church Nave

  • 1st        back Altar                 made by?               Paulinus Hammer     ??
  • 2nd    Pyramid leg Altar   made by                 Bernard  Gervais      1965
  • 3rd     plain leg Altar        made by?                James Mahrer         1966
  • 4th     column-ized legs    made by                 Kevin Milder            2003  (Fr. Louis Kirby’s time)


Westcliffe Catholic Cemetery... under various names

  1. Silver Cliff Cemetery founded 1878
  2. Calvary Catholic - 1880
  3. Holy Rood (Road?) June 23, 1881
  4. Cath Cem Westcliffe, January/February, 1909
  5. Westcliffe County Cemetery, December, 1911
  6. The Assumption Cemetery, 2000


FR. ROBERT A. EARLY, 1890 - 1907

1907 – Father Early, the priest who has recently been appointed to this parish by the Rt. Rev Bishop Matz, arrived here Thursday evening and will celebrate Mass at the Catholic Church tomorrow. We have met the Rev. Father and feel justified in saying that he will prove eminently satisfactory to the members of this parish.   –Wet Mountain Tribune, August 16, 2007: Peaks of the Past. The first pastor to be stationed in Westcliffe for any length of time was Fr. Servant.

FR. RAYMON LAYTON, OSB, 1938 – October 1940

  • 1932 or 33 the first 3 blue spruce trees were planted by John Knuth and Casper Keinrick… taken from the nearby forest
  • Fr. Layton was pastor of St. Michael’s in Canon City from 1946-59
  • Fr. Layton’s picture is in St Michael’s Church book. Fr. Layton became Pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Canon City on March 7, 1946

FR. PAULINIS HAMMER, O.S.B., 1935?-1949

  • Back Altar (first altar)
  • 1940    Anti-Pendium inserted into the original back Altar. In 1940, Thomas Hugg painted 4 different subjects on a rectangle canvas, in oil, to represent the different Liturgical Seasons.
    #1  White - Wheat & Grapes represents Bread & Wine-Christmas & Easter Season
    #2  Green - Two Doves represents the Ordinary Times
    #3  Red - Represents the Feast of the Martyrs.
    #4  Purple - Angus Dei represents Advent and Lent

*Grandson, Rusty Christensen, 783-2616, of Silver Cliff has #’s 2, 3, 4. Thomas Hugg’s daughter Arloa Christensen, Canon City 275-5305  would like to have the #1 painting (hanging in the parish office)


  • 1950 — Original pump organ
  • 1961    Dec – candelabras. Donated by Mr. & Mrs. Lee Jones
  • 1961    Wooden square tall candlesticks (made by Bro. Michael), Sanctuary lamps and a matching Baptismal Font. In memory of  Frank A. Diener – May 25, 1960. These were a $600 gift through the estate of Frank A. Diener by Mrs. Anna Falkenberg, his sister.
  • 1962   Baldwin Fantasia electric (2nd ) organ, paid for by the donations of the Altar & Rosary Society and about $2-300 donated by Frank Deiner.

FR. BERNARD GERVAIS (Ger-vay-is) 1963-1965

  • 1964    pews, mobile Tabernacle, 35” Statues: St T, Sacred Heart, BVM, St Joseph [presently painted white] St Benedict
  • 1964    back Altar cloth, white scalloped
  • 1965    Pyramid leg Altar (1st Front Altar) bought from `monks’ [Robert DeGree] Lectern, and Communion rail (used only 1 year)
    made by Fr. Bernard. All new furnishings oak & the paneled Sanctuary wall with mahogany.
  • 1965    votive candle stand
  • 1965    mobile Tabernacle
  • 1965    second set Stations of the Cross (Fr. James gave the entire set to Maureen & Michael Fink in 1965)

FR. JAMES MAHRER, O.S.B. July 1965-1997

  • In 1968, total parishioners 97
  • Altar Servers: black cassocks and white surplices
  • … Both outside stairs to the Rectory (That’s the first stairway I ever built, it’s a little steep. I never hung a door before, or wired a house, or dug a basement, but there they are.
     –Southern Colorado Register,  pg 66
  • … Church indoor staircase leading to the second floor choir loft in the church. The organ & choir were in the choir loft
  • 1966,  Altar table, plain legs
  • 1967,  First used coal, then propane then central heating system installed in the rectory
  • 1967,   approximate year, new roofing on the church, house and tower and the lowering of the tower
  • 1996-7 Single Nativity piece, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and 2 angels with removable wings
  • 1970,  propane furnace in the Church & Rectory, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Edward Knobbe
  • 1972,  I.T. Verdin 340-C Carillon bell chimes; donated by Frances Byrne, in memory of her husband George`Shorty’.
       Installed August 1 ($1,485 + 3 tapes)
  • 1973,  Holy Family Shrine and Bell (900 lbs) Tower (about 28’ high), designed by Fr. Mahrer to honor the Holy Family, built by generous donations and erected by volunteer workers . Fr. Leonard Schwinn celebrated a special Mass and dedication rites on August 15, 1973, before a crowd of about 75 people. Fr. James Mahrer resided along with Fr. Vincent, former pastor of OLA 1944-46. (newspaper clipping) – see bell tower plaque below
  • 1977,  Refinished pews, in Pueblo, at a cost of $3,000 and paid for…in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Simi Rogensen, and Mr. & Mrs. Moise Letourneau. (Rogensen should be spelled Rogenski, engraved incorrectly)
  • ... Re-stuccoing the exterior at a cost of about $7,000 and paid for by a collection from the local families
  • …  $3,000 double glass doors, donated by Fr. James’ brother George
  • …  Changing of the Choir Loft into a Cry Room, thanks to the funding of Don Bray of Alaska
  • 1999,  November,  third organ
  • 1982,  Main Tabernacle – In memory of Melanie Jean Potthoff  (1953-1982), from her parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends.
  • 1985.  third set Stations of the Cross donated by Catherine M. Piquette and Carol L. Thon, in honor of James & Myrtle Christoff
  • 1985,  inside paneled. The panels were donated by Jim Viola from Penrose, and installed by Jim Christoff and (?). Prior to the paneling, the walls were painted a light greenish color
  • 1986,  start of the new James A. Mahrer Parish Hall, ending in May 1987 with the Blessing of the Center by Bishop Tafoya. Total cost $54,898. (newspaper clipping of the Blessing)
  • ... Brass on Wood Plaque, 9x12: Dedicated in loving and grateful memory to Father James A. Mahrer, OSB Pastor from 1965 to 1997… Church of the Assumption… “We are witnesses to all that he did… Acts 10:39…May 25, 1997
  • 1988,  Easter Candle Stand, combo Advent. Engraved at the base, Honoring Fr. James Mahrer… From Letourneux – Rogenski Family… Westcliffe, Co  1988.  Donated by Fran Rogenski and Julee Letourneux. (“Fr. James cried when he saw his name engraved at the base of the Advent Stand” from Julee Letourneux)
  • ... Carpeted entrance, main aisle, Altar & Sacristy… red velvet drape behind the Crucifix, donated by Fran Rogenski, Julee Letourneux and Leorn family
  • ... Large crucifix before altar from ??
  • 1990? Pulpit, in memory of John W. Loens. May 15, 1899 – June 3, 1990

   Shrine of the Holy Family
   Dedicated August 15, 1973
   By Abbot Leonard Schwinn, O.S.
   Verdin Chimes
   In memory of George ‘Shorty’ Byrne
   By Frances Byrne and Family
   Three Stone Statues (Sacred Heart, Mary & Joseph)
   In memory of Sadie E. DeGree
   Albert Chase and Family
   Mary Ellen Roscoe and Family
   Lee Jones and Family
   Shrine Erected by
   Edward Knobbe, Frances Wernette, James Christoff
   Darwin and Paul Copeland, John Knuth, Dona Geroux
   Richard Squire, Frank, Clarence, Paul, John Schneider
   Mr. & Mrs. Edward Knobbe, Marie Squire
   Mr. & Mrs. Danny Loafman, Mr. & Mrs. James Bray
   Mr. & Mrs. James Turner, Mr. & Mrs. Frances Wernette


  • … 4’ Immaculate Conception (Mary) Daprato statue, in memory of the Grome Family, Mary Ellen Morrissey & Sister Mary Mildred, O.S.B.  Both wrists were cracked, the bottom left horn chipped, and a large chunk missing from the neck of the snake, plus there were numerous chips around the base. Oct `03  it was repaired for $335 by Mike Levan (la van) – Hummel Restoration, from Colorado Springs 719.633.4080   
  • … 4’ St. Joseph & Baby Jesus  Daprato statue, gift of Joe Berta & John Falgien Families. There was a hairline crack on Baby Jesus left elbow and His fingers, completely missing, were poorly resculpted at one time. At Fr. James request, Margaret Locarnini was in the process of resculpting the new fingers, when Fr. James stopped her from completing the work. In 2005, it was repaired for $335. In the spring of `04
  • 1964,  24" St. Benedict statue, made by Daprato Statuary Co… Chicago, U.S.A.
  • 1964,  35´´ St Joseph statue at the back of the church, was made by Draprato Statuary Chicago,
    repainted white by Fr. James
  • ... 24" St. Theresa, donated by Frances & Joseph Potthoff in memory of their daughter Melanie
  • … 24” plaster statues of the Sacred Heart  & the Immaculate Heart, 1966. One on each side of the altar. Written at the base of the BVM, Flood time – budges out  Purchased on the Flood day Aug 2, 1966  James Mahrer  [flood on Aug 2 & 3, 1966, weather related]
  • ... 25" Sacred Heart with a salmon color cloak
  • ... 3 white plaster statues inside of the bell tower:
           1- Sacred Heart, 2- Our Lady of Grace, 3- St. Joseph


  • 1985, Crafted stained glass windows, about $1,000 each and made by Silver Cliff resident Lenny Tischler (now living in Santa Fe), were installed by Lenny and Dave Shaffer –  from 1985-1987. The following text came from Lenny in March, 2013, via email to correct the dates and is placed here to share the story of the windows:
       Greetings, My name is Lenny Tischler. I am the builder of the stain glass windows in the church. I was looking at your web site and saw the beautiful job you did rebuilding the church and restoring the stain glass windows that my wife Barbara designed often with Father James's suggestions. We built those windows in 1985 (not 1975). Just for your information the small windows in the vestibule were donated by Margaret and Clara (I forgot their last names) who owned the Appaloosa Ranch 15 miles east of town. One was the Lamb of God but I forgot the other one, it could have been a design with grapes. (Editoral note: see last bulleted item in this section for details on these two windows.)
       I so enjoyed working with Father James Maher. He was intimately involved with us in the design of the windows. If we ever had any disagreements over the details of the design of the windows he would say to me "the buck stops here" pointing to himself to remind me of who was paying me for the windows. When Father James came to my studio occasionally to check on the progress of the windows, he always brought meat scraps and bones for my dog Popper and an occasional bottle of wine to assist me in the building of the windows. Father James would sometimes call me to come down to the rectory to consult with him about the windows and we would talk about many things, his history in the Abbey in Canon City, his home in North Dakota and many stories of his service in the church. I will always remember him with such fondness. He became my dear friend.
        —Lenny Tischler, 1904 San Ildefonso Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505
  • - A Nativity Scene upstairs in the choir loft, donated by the Edwin Knobbe family
  • - A Sacred Heart donated in memory of the Crist and DiDomenico families
  • - A Blessed Sacrament, donated by John and Dorothy Martin
  • - A Lamb of God, donated in the memory of Doris & Wm. McCarty
  • - A Blessed Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus, donated by Frances & Joseph Potthoff
  • - Both side windows next to the altar, plain stained glass, NOT made by Tischler were donated by Dr. & Mrs. Ed Lipley
        of Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • - A Crown, Mary’s insignia … Letourneau & Rogenski Family
  • - A Risen Christ, Jan & Ed Yaklick… Mom & Dad
  • - Two small stained glass windows by entrance door, design concept by Margaret Locarnin and working design by Barb Tischler.
    1. Chalice & Grapes -  Dorothy & Michael Sullivan and Margaret A. Locarnini
    2. Angus Dei (Lamb) – Margaret & Darrell Oliver and Clara M. Reida, installed by Margaret Lorcarnini
         At the new church, this window is carried outside and backlit during the Christmas season.


  • … Annunciation by Beato Angelico picture - Mary & Chuck Wilkins (1996?)
  • … St. Michael & Divine Mercy -  Maura Akers, about 1996
  • … Pieta – made in Italy - Shirley & Myron Tassin 
  • ... Angus Dei [Lamb of God]
  • … Sistene Madonna 33¼ x 41½  unframed, bought by Fr Lewis


  •   1st   Agony in the Garden                              Crystal Yankovich  ?
  •   2nd  Carrying of the Cross                             Crystal Yankovich 
  •   3rd   Jesus falls the 1st time                             Fr. Dan Jones 
  •   4th   Jesus meets His Mother                         ...
  •   5th   Simon helps Jesus carry His Cross        ...
  •   6th   Veronica wipes Jesus Face                    Sandy Knight
  •   7th   Jesus falls the 2nd time                            Our Lady of the Assumption 
  •   8th   Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem     Fr. Dan Jones
  •   9th   Jesus fall the 3rd time                              Fr. Dan Jones...
  • 10th   Jesus is stripped of His garments           ...
  • 11th   Jesus is nailed to the Cross                    ...
  • 12th   Jesus is crucified                                    George Byrne
  • 13th   Jesus is taken down from the Cross       Laura & John Piquette
  • 14th   Jesus is buried                                        Fr. Dan Jones

FR. LOUIS M. KIRBY, OSB,  May 1997 – September 2004

  • DOB 1922 , Ordained by  Bishop Joseph C Willging, D.D.
  • ... retired the use of the paten during Holy Communion
  • … new Cruet table (?)
  • ... Altar Server albs, red, hooded with white cinctures
  • ... holding hands during the Our Father
  • … new organ, donated by individuals, Parish collection and the DCCW
  • … 1998 – 9 piece porcelain Nativity set, Fr. Lewis chose it & Bonnie & Ron McClain donated it
  • …1999 Mexican hand carved Crucifix donated by Mary Lou & Ray Koch -
  • …1999  legless credence table made by Kevin Midler
  • … 2000 Monstrance, donated by Bonnie & Ron McClain
  • … March 2001, 2 brass draft proof followers for Altar candles & 6 for the candelabras, 2 cast iron flame snuffers (compliments of C-C Welding)
  • … March 2001,  Blue Spruce tree cut down, corner of rectory & church
  • … March 2001, large Mexican Crucifix attached to rectory front, repaired by Margaret Locarnini & donated by Mary Lou & Ray Koch
  • … March 2001, large print of `Sistine Madonna’ in community center, sold to Fr. Louis for $150 - (Artist, Sanzio Raphael - 1512)
  • … July 2001, Ambrey cabinet to hold sacred oils. Made by Kevin Milder
  • … 3 cruets to hold Sacred Oils. Donated by Maureen & Chris Work
        OL-oil of Catechumens… OI-oil of the Sick… OS-oil of the Holy Chrism (most important of the oils)
  • … 3 trees close to the tower cut down, opening the view of the tower and the rectory
  • … 2001, red, white Tabernacle and Chalice cover - purple, green Chalice cover, altar cloth and vestment
  • ... June 2003 ciborium bowl
  • ... July 2003 white polyester short front altar cloth, made by Isabella Post (previous member living in Pueblo)
  • 2003  Altar #3 column-ized legs made by Kevin Midler
  • … Eucharistic Adoration on first Fridays, from 8am-noon
  • … DCCW – women’s organization was started – January, 1999
  • … 2nd Altar table, plain legs
  • … started morning Vespers prior to Holy Mass
  • … new organ (third)
  • … November 2000 – started gifts being brought up to the altar by parishioners
  • ...weekday Masses on Monday, Friday and Saturday mornings

FR. JAMES E. KING, September 2004 – June 26, 2005

  • 58-yrs old [2004]... was St Michael’s, Canon City and St. Benedict, Florence Pastor as well and OLOA’s in Westcliffe  …  Eucharistic Adoration on first Fridays, from 8:30 am-9:30 am
  • ... Communion service on Friday’s only
  • ... Mass on Sunday’s at 3:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. after celebrating Mass in Florence and Canon City as well, that day
  • ... retired use of the Chalice Veil

FR. VICENTE Paz en la CASA, July 3, 2005 – February 6, 2012

  • First Diocesan Pastor
  • (first Fr. Vicente in 1944-46)
  • Fr. Vicente is from Briton, England and had changed his English name Vincent to the Spanish version Vicente because his first parish in the U.S. was predominantly Spanish and he wanted to `fit in’. He was Pastor of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Pueblo and was credited in building the church. Later he was assigned Pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Grand Junction. After several years in Grand Junction, for health reasons he asked for and received a transfer to a smaller parish... St Benedict’s in Florence, St Patrick’s, a Mission church in Rockvale, CO and Our Lady of the Assumption in Westcliffe.
  • His first Mass at OLA was celebrated on August 3, 2005 in the Community Building that was temporarily converted into a church until a new one was built. Since there would only be one Mass celebrated on Sundays, the old church could not accommodate the all the parishioners, the part timers and the visiting tourists during the summers so it was decided to use the larger Community Building. The old church is used for the daily Communion service, Friday Eucharistic Adoration and private meditations for those interested. The Blessed Sacrament was kept in the old church and carried over to the Community Building every Sunday for Mass, then returned to the old church for safe keeping. Plans are in the process for the construction of a new church to be built in the present site of the old church... tentative demolition date, 2007
  • ... Sunday Mass, 11:00 a.m.
  • ... re-instated use of the Chalice Veil
  • ... Communion service Friday only
  • … Mass, Tuesdays 10:00 a.m.
  • ... Eucharistic Adoration every Friday after the Communion Service for 1 hour
  • ... Communion Service started also on Tuesdays, followed with Adoration for 1 hour [March, 2006]
  • ... sang the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass
  • ... adding the Hail Mary after Prayer of Intentions,  to invoke BVM intercessions (a tradition in England)
  • ... sang Prayer over the Gifts
  • ... sang Preface of Sundays
  • ... sang Prayer after Communion
  • … Reinstalled the use of the Chalice Veil
  • … Liquid oil vigil candle
  • ... First deacon of OLA - Larry Joseph Yatch assisted in his first Mass as deacon onAugust 7, 2005 w/Fr. Vicente
  • 11/05   The garage to the Community Building was redesigned to accommodate a narthex. A wall was put in place of the garage doors, a window on the south & east side added & insulation.
  • November 20, 2005... loaned to St Patrick's mission church in Rockvale:
    2 white , purple embroidered stoles, made in Mexico for Fr. Louis
    1 white stole, gold tassels with a red painting gold cross
    1 plain white stole
    2 – 5 candle candelabra's wood stem, mid-60s
    3 white albs, S M L
    1 gold Chalice with Rt. Rev. Msgr. E. J. Verschraeghen  engraved on it    – no date
    1 small plain gold paten
    1 Ciborium cup with wood stem, mid-60s
    Wooden  bookstand
  • December 12, 2005...borrowed large crucifix from St. Benedict’s in Florence
  • 12/05   Liquid paraffin sanctuary vigil candle
  • 12/05   Changing of the Antependium’s in the old church back altar according to the liturgical seasons
  • 12/05   White altar server albs, no hoods or cinctures
  • October 24, 2006 — Last Mass celebrated in the Old Church… the inside was stripped immediately after the Mass ended
  • 11/06   Massive ornate Easter Vigil candle hold purchased from the Benedictine Monastery in Canon City
  • 11/06   Presidential chair purchased from the Benedictine Monastery in Canon City
  • November 13, 2006 — Demolition of the old church began with cutting down some trees
  • December 26, 2006 — Demolition of the actual church bldg, should take approx 2-3 weeks

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