You responded, made a difference

'Let us continue to be people of hope...a leaven in society'

Karna Swanson

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila gave credit for the pro-life victory in Colorado tonight to the people of Colorado “who listened to God’s call” and voiced their opposition to the abortion rights bill known as SB175.

Read the entire letter here

“You are the ones who made a difference!” he wrote in a statement released shortly after state senators killed the bill even before debating it in the Senate. The legislation sought to create an absolute right to abortion in Colorado, and possibly undo life-affirming laws already on the books.

Faith-filled citizens inundated state senators with phone calls, emails and personal requests to support mothers and the unborn by voting down the bill, touted as the “The Reproductive Health Freedom Act.”

On Tuesday, with less than a day’s notice, as estimated 1,000 Coloradans gathered at the state Capitol building at 3 p.m., the Hour of Mercy, to join Archbishop Samuel Aquila to pray for the defeat of SB175. He was joined by Father Ambrose Omayas, assistant administrator of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver.

“As I said yesterday after we prayed together on the steps of the state Capitol,” the archbishop wrote, “I had no idea how much impact my letter would have on the people of Colorado. In just a few days we are able to raise a united front in opposition to Senate Bill 175 and in defense of unborn children, the most innocent of all people.

“Congratulations to the people of good will throughout Colorado who listened to God’s call to be active in politics and to defend life at every stage!”

The archbishop then expressed gratitude towards all those who came together to pray at the state Capitol on Tuesday, including “families that came out in support of life, particularly mothers who came with their young children.”

He also thanked seminarians, priests, women religious, and those “of various faiths who work each and every day to be a leaven in society for the common good.”

“We need you!” he added. “Keep up the good work!”

Archbishop Aquila expressed “deep gratitude” to Father Omayas, “who joined me in a particularly moving way on the steps of the state Capitol to pray and bless the people present.”

He also thanked Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo, who joined him in writing a letter against SB175 to all the state senators, and Regis University president Father John Fitzgibbons, who released a public letter in opposition of SB175.

Our strength, our hope

Turning his attention to Holy Week, the archbishop noted that “these holiest days of the year are a very important moment of memory.”

“For the Catholic Christian,” he continued, “living the ‘memory’ of Christ is not like remembering some completed event that’s now relegated to history; rather, the memory of Christ is someone present in our midst – in the sacraments, in our communities – and is the same as remembering who we are, and whose we are.

“He is our strength and our hope and the one who brings joy to the human heart!”

“Our hope lies not in the powers of government,” he continued, “nor the laws of man, but in the Resurrected God-Man who conquers the grave and never ceases to be present among us, his followers.

“This is not the end of a political battle, but the beginning of a journey together in the Archdiocese of Denver. Let us continue to be people of hope. Let us continue to be a leaven in society. Let us continue to seek the kingdom of God, helping one another, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

COMING UP: Riding to help those in need

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Charity begins in the heart, with putting others before yourself. Our priests, nuns and religious live out that charity by devoting their lives to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.

How can the rest of us do that, too? By using our God-given talents and efforts to serve our families, parishes and communities. Serving together as a team, focused on a mission greater than ourselves, is a powerful experience.

A great example of that — on behalf of Catholic Charities — is Team Samaritan House, a group of 30 riders who will be biking more than 400 miles, from Carbondale to Fort Collins, over six days beginning June 12 as part of the annual Ride the Rockies event.

It’s the sixth year on the road for Team Samaritan House, which is seeking to raise $150,000 for our shelters, including Samaritan House at 2301 Lawrence St., where we provide a meal for just $1.60 per person. For 30 years, Samaritan House has served women, children and men experiencing homelessness — providing food, shelter, safety and support to regain stability.

Team Samaritan House is more than $60,000 to their goal and I encourage you to go to to learn more about the team, pick a rider to cheer on and support them with a donation. But the money raised isn’t the most important thing about Team Samaritan House. It’s their dedication to a cause.

Tom Schwein, the team captain and a Catholic Charities board member, had a terrible accident near the finish line of last year’s Ride the Rockies, breaking eight bones in his face.

“The more I thought about the homeless after my crash and the blessing we had as a cycling team to raise (more than $100,000) for the homeless of Colorado last year, the more I realized that God was not yet done with me here on earth, and was calling me to do more,” Schwein, who will once again ride this year, told us.

The team members are preparing to ride 400 miles so that other people have a clean place to sleep, clothes on their back and food to eat.

“Our team is a beacon of light for the homeless and each other,” Leslie Prevish, another Team Samaritan House rider, told us. “I feel like anybody could have a circumstance in their life where they could end up homeless. I think of how important it is to help other people in need and not judge because you don’t know their story.”

If you’d like to meet members of Team Samaritan House in person, I encourage you to attend a send-off for them the evening of Tuesday, June 7, at the Denver Press Club at 1330 Glenarm Place. 70% of the tips that night will be donated to Team Samaritan House fundraising efforts.

Three months after Ride the Rockies, on Saturday, Sept. 10, there’s another great way to support Samaritan House, by attending Sam’s Supper: The Meal that Serves Many, which will be at Mile High Station. All the details, including tickets, are available at

I also invite you to take a tour of Samaritan House and perhaps sign up to serve dinner one night to the residents. It is in giving that we receive, and I pray you will find many blessings in whatever ways you choose to serve others.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online at or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.