Parish generosity rewarded through Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal rebate

This past January, Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Mead celebrated the dedication of its brand new church building. Among the excitement surrounding the new church was also a need for funds to support the project.

That’s when the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) rebate the parish received last year came to the rescue.

“It was put into operating expenses, which really helped us out because having just built a new church, we now have a loan that we need to pay off,” said parish pastor Father Alan Hartway.

“By using that fund in operating expenses, we were able to cover a lot of those moving costs,” he said.

The appeal rebate occurs when parishes exceed their ACA fundraising goal and receive money back, which they can use to benefit the parish.

Last year was the first time Immaculate Heart of Mary in Northglenn received the rebate since Father James Spahn has been the parish’s pastor.

“Every year I’ve been here these four years, it’s been going up and up,” said Father Spahn. “Finally, this year, we reached our goal.

“It just made me proud of my people,” he said. “The people at the parish are very generous to so many causes.”

Parishes use the rebate funds in a variety of ways.

For St. Thomas More in Centennial, the rebate they received last year was put into a general operatory fund, said pastor Msgr. Thomas Fryar. That money was likely used in several ways, including adding more cantors at church services, bringing in visiting priests to hear confessions, and helping the parish pay for new renovations.

St. Thomas More’s ability to exceed their goal of over half a million dollars was deeply inspiring to Msgr. Fryar.

“It speaks about the commitment of our community to the wider Church,” he said. “When we are aware of and reach out to the wider Church, you can’t help but have the blessings that come back upon our people.”

Like his fellow priests, Msgr. Fryar is encouraged by the generosity of his parishioners and the action they take to give back to the archdiocese.

“As a pastor, it’s nice to see the parish alive,” he said.

Father Hartway notices a similar generosity among his parishioners and explained that the ACA connects them to the entire archdiocesan family.

“They feel like there’s a bigger team with the archdiocese,” he said. “They feel that they are supported by the archdiocese. It’s not just taking money from us, it also gives it back.”

To motivate his parishioners during the ACA and beyond it, Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Denver, emphasizes the need each person has to give.

“We have found that you have a need to give before giving to a need,” he said. “But if you lead with the idea that you’re giving to a need and you satisfy the need, then people are left with the false conclusion that you don’t need to give anymore. But you always have a need to give.”

And responding to that need to give doesn’t go unnoticed, Father Kemberling added, as portrayed in through the ACA rebate.

“God’s generosity will be rewarded back to you,” he said.

COMING UP: We should have listened to Pope Paul VI

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Happy Humanae Vitae 50th Anniversary!

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been a whirlwind.  Parties, parades, some great fireworks shows.  Oh, and did you see the Hollywood All-Star Tribute to Pope Paul VI?

OK, maybe not so much.

It’s a shame, really. If everyone had somehow, miraculously, listened to Pope Paul VI back in 1968, the world could be a very different place today.  Heck, we might not even have a need for the #MeToo movement.

Allow me to explain.

Up until the 1960’s, it was pretty universally recognized that sex between people of childbearing age came with the distinct possibility of the aforementioned childbearing.  Birth control methods up to that point were somewhat rudimentary and unreliable.  Procreation was an inherent part of sexual activity — part of its meaning.  So respecting a woman meant not putting her at risk of a pregnancy she wasn’t prepared for.  And she in turn had a clear-cut, universally recognized reason to be indignant if a man was pressuring her.

But The Pill changed all of that.  Young people (and a lot of older people, too) figured that, without that pesky fear of pregnancy, they could indulge in sexual activity whenever, and with whomever, they chose. It would be fun, they thought.  Sex feels good, they thought.  Why not have more of it, with more people, they thought.

And then Pope Paul VI said “no.”  In Humanae Vitae, he essentially said that Pill or no Pill, birth control was still not morally licit.

The young people of the Free Love Generation were not disappointed by this news — only because I would imagine they were too busy making love and not war to notice an obscure, 23-page theological document released by a celibate guy who was way older than 30.

But, had they been smart, they might have paid attention to the following passage from that obscure theological document:

It can also be feared that the man who becomes used to contraceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman, and no longer caring about her physical and psychological equilibrium, come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion. (HV 17)

Does that sound at all familiar?

The problem came because, as much as the generation of the 1960’s wanted Free Love to really be free, it isn’t.  They figured removing the risk of pregnancy would remove the “strings,” and everybody could just consensually enjoy everybody else’s body with no ramifications.

But there is a saying: “Nature bats last.”  Sexual activity was designed by God, not by us.  And he, in myriad ways, designed it to be a profoundly, deeply, inherently meaningful act that touches the very core of the human psyche and spirit.  Everything about it — physically, chemically, emotionally and spiritually — is built around the fact that it is a profound act of self-giving love that places the couple in the context of entering into and cooperating with him in his most sacred role — as Creator of the miracle that is a new human person. Sex speaks a language, and the possibility of procreation is an essential part of that language.  It says “I give myself to you, and to the new life that may come forth from my gift.”

And as hard as we might try, we can’t change that.

I think women, being the ones who conceive and bear that life, are more naturally sensitive to this meaning.  We can’t always articulate it, but it’s there. And hence, we are more reluctant to play with it carelessly.

When the sexual revolution attempted to sever sexual activity from the possibility of procreation, they were essentially attempting to render sexual activity meaningless.  They were saying “from now on, this is just something we do with our bodies.  It can mean as much or as little as you want it to mean.”

This is wrong on so many levels.  For one, it takes away women’s power.  When we recognized that sex is powerful, meaningful and life-altering, a woman had the backing of her family and her culture in saying “No, I will not place myself or my future children at that risk, and if you don’t respect that, you clearly don’t love me.”

Now, women are more or less on their own in fending off the male sex drive — which, for good or for evil, could probably be considered one of the most powerful forces in the world.  If sex is meaningless, then why in the world would she object?  He wants it, and it might be fun for her too, so why wouldn’t she be nice and acquiesce?

It takes a very strong, very well-formed and dare I say holy young woman to have the courage to say “I believe that God created sex with an inherent meaning, so my final answer is no” and watch him walk out of her life forever.  For the vast majority of young women, who can’t articulate what they inherently sense about the sacredness of their bodies, it’s a lot easier just to go along with the program and try to keep the guy.

And then it moves from acquiescing to keep the boyfriend, to acquiescing to make the powerful man happy so that I can get the job, or keep the job, or get the role in the movie, or whatever.  The world becomes one big quid pro quo arrangement whereby we are expected to trade on our bodies to get what we want or need.

And the woman becomes “a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment.”

The hard lesson we should have learned from Humanae Vitae is quite simply that our bodies have meaning, that sexual expression has a meaning, and that God is God and we are not.  And that when we start tinkering around with that meaning, people get hurt.

We should have listened.