As Bob and Tina McLaren fled the Superior, Colorado neighborhood they had called home since 1992, Tina looked back and saw flames at the end of their street.
As the Catholic couple, their daughter and two grandchildren made their way to safety, driving through clouds of ash and smoke, Tina hoped against hope that maybe, just maybe, their house would be spared.
But a few days later, after the authorities permitted them to return, their fears were confirmed. Their house was ash.
And yet, amid the rubble, two concrete statues of Mary that had stood on their property remained.
A statue of St. Jude, who holds special significance for the family, also survived. Bob said when they were first building their house, their original plan for financing the build fell through. He said he credits the intercession of St. Jude — the patron of impossible causes— with helping them get a new financing plan to build their family home.
The McLarens, like nearly 1,000 of their neighbors, lost their home in the Marshall Fire, a fast-moving wildfire that consumed hundreds of buildings and businesses in Boulder County, Colorado during the last days of 2021. The towns of Louisville and Superior, roughly halfway between the larger cities of Denver and Boulder, were hardest hit.
At least one person is confirmed dead as a result of the fires, the most destructive in state history. The initial cause of the fire, which spread rapidly due to high winds and an exceptional drought, remains under investigation.
The McLarens are currently staying with relatives in Northglenn, Colorado. Bob says they built their Superior home in 1992 and raised their four daughters there— there are “many hearts broken by its loss,” he said.
Despite the tragedy, the family has been able to find some respite from their local Catholic parish, which set up a donation center to help those in need in the wake of the fire.
The McClarens have been active parishioners at St. Louis Catholic Church in Louisville for nearly 40 years. Tina said they have received a tremendous amount of help from their local faith community; they’ve been almost overwhelmed by donations of basic necessities like clothes, she said.
And while the monetary and material donations are “incredible,” Tina said the prayers they have received have been even more so. She said old friends that they haven’t spoken to in years, some that they never thought they would hear from again, have reached out to ask how they’re doing, and to offer prayers.
Tina said many family members, some of whom have fallen away from the Catholic faith, have also reached out to offer prayers.
Colorado’s housing market, spurred by years of high demand as well as by the pandemic, was extremely tight even before the fire displaced 1,000 or so families. Bob says they plan to stay in Superior, in the community they have come to love so much. In the meantime, the family is looking for temporary housing.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Our mission is the truth. Join us!
Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.
A Catholic couple who lost their home in a historic Colorado wildfire late last year say they have experienced “absolutely heroic virtue” from their neighbors, as they and thousands of others reel from the complete loss of their homes.