New church in Silverthorne has first Mass Saturday

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Paige Blankenbuehler

The new Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church will host its first Mass on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Silverthorne. The church, 25 years in the making, is the first in Summit County to have a hearing loop installed to aid in improving the experience for hard-of-hearing attendees.

Hearing loops are gaining popularity across the country with their seamless installations and compatibility with most hearing aids.

The loop sends a signal directly to the hearing aid, with a “telecoil switch,” a feature in most hearing aids that can be turned on or off to amplify sounds.

Laura Hansen, Frisco part-time resident and owner of Assist 2 Hear based in Denver, installed the hearing loop at Our Lady of Peace.

“The installation of a loop only takes one day and no one can see it,” Hansen said. “It’s a wire around a room, typically in the floor, that creates a magnetic field when hooked up to loop amplifier. It’s compatible with the sound system in the church and talks directly to the t-coil in a hearing aid.”

To a regular hearing aid wearer, a church service can sound muddled because the voice of a speaker at the front reverberates and melds with ambient noise around the room. But listening to the same service with the assistance of a telecoil, also referred to as a “t-coil,” makes the speaker’s voice clear and leaves out the background noise.

Hansen said that she came across hearing loops while working in the senior care industry.

“I had been working in the senior care industry for a couple of years and I really noticed people with hearing loss struggling and isolating themselves from activities,” she said. “I put a home hearing loop in my father’s TV room. He’s 88 and I have not seen him as happy as he was for the hearing loop for years.”

Our Lady of Peace church is now the biggest church in Summit County, and the only one with the latest technology for assistive hearing.

“I think that this will be a great way to increase the attendance at church gatherings,” Hansen said. “We tend to think about hearing loss as a senior issue, but in reality many of the baby boomer generation are encountering it as well.”

Silverthorne’s new Catholic church, which is relocating from Dillon Valley, has a long list of upgrades including new pews, kneelers and expanded worship and facility space.

“During ski season at the other church, we would have people standing out on the sidelines because there was no room,” said deacon Chuck Lamar. “This new location will definitely alleviate that problem.”

The new building has a capacity of 460 people in the main worship area as well as classrooms, office space and a large kitchen and dining area.

“With this new space, we can hold several classes at once,” Lamar said. “We have the ability now to really connect with our members.”

With the expanded space, Lamar and Father Randy Dollings are encouraging residents, second-home owners, and visitors to come and enjoy the facility.

“Now that the church is in a central place in Summit County, people have a place to come in during the day for worship – there are no other places for them to go during the day because other churches are locked. We now have the space and staff to have office hours that are open to the public.”

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