Pope Francis wants you and your family in Ireland

Denver’s Religious Travel International offers pilgrimage to World Meeting of Families 2018

Beauty, faith, joy, culture and Jesus will all be present at the World Meeting of Families this Aug. 18-27 in Dublin, Ireland – and Pope Francis wants you to be there.

The event will celebrate the family as the cornerstone of our lives, society and the Church, with the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” The pope will join thousands of other families from around the world for the event.

“The pope is trying to give families some pragmatic ways to live their vocation as a family in society,” said John Magee, vice president of Religious Travel International based in Denver. “I think that if families can come away from the race of life to be able to pray together and experience the Universal Church and the message of this WMOF, they will see great fruits.”

RTI provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for families who would like to attend. It’s organizing not only a trip, but a pilgrimage that seeks to make the experience truly transforming for the whole family, through faith and history.

“We do everything in our hands to prepare a meaningful journey to add to the spiritual life of the person,” said Jane Luzietti, owner and managing director of RTI. “Many people hold back from these opportunities because sometimes they don’t know what comes out of a pilgrimage. [But] the Spirit works on these journeys. We’ve had great testimonies from people in the past.”

The conference will consist of a program of workshops, talks and discussions for adults; an engaging program for young people and fun activities for children – not to mention the festivals, exhibitions and charitable activities that will be available for families.

Other than providing a faith-filled trip through the WMOF and daily Masses, the pilgrimage will include trips to explore the beauty of creation and learn about the historical richness of Ireland.

“Many people trace their ancestry to Ireland and perhaps have never been or explored Ireland within the context of their faith,” Magee said. “Especially for them to be able to do that in a multigenerational way is an incredible thing to offer [to their children and parents].”

The group’s stay in Dublin will be at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, one of the finest in the city and located within walking distance of the conference center.

This privilege will allow families the space and freedom to embrace the message of the conference while being able to attend to the needs of their children and spend time together, Magee said.

Luzietti hopes to have representation from a variety of parishes in Denver and encourages parents to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity: “Being as a family is a big part of the conference. It shows your children that faith is important to you. Sometimes families don’t talk about the faith as much as they could.”

To contact RTI with any questions or to register by April 15, visit rtijourneys.com.

What:                 World Meeting of Families pilgrimage

When:                 Aug. 18-27, 2018

Where:                Dublin, Ireland

Cost:                    $4,142 (based on double occupancy)

Register:              rtijourneys.com

Deadline:             April 15

COMING UP: Earthly stewardship is a Christian virtue

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Earthly stewardship is a Christian virtue

School’s environmental care efforts reap rewards for people, planet, pocket-book

Roxanne King

In Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato si, subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home,” the Holy Father calls all people to an “ecological conversion,” whereby one’s encounter with Jesus Christ is reflected in one’s relationship with the Earth.

“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” the pope writes. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he asserts, “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”

Erin Hensley, 35, parent leader of Shrine of St. Anne School’s student Green Team, took to heart Pope Francis’ words and reinstituted recycling at the Arvada school last year. Those efforts decreased the school’s landfill waste by 40 percent weekly and saved it $3,000 annually. The project also won a $1,000 Green Up Your School grant, which the Green Team is using this year to expand recycling in the classroom and in the lunchroom.

For Earth Day, the Green Team took their efforts into the wider community by stationing themselves at the Arvada Chick-fil-A on April 21 to urge customers to recycle their take-out containers.

To help foster environmental stewardship, Hensley shared tips with the Denver Catholic on how to start or expand one’s own sustainability efforts in schools and at home.

DC: How is recycling going at St. Anne’s this school year?

Hensley: It’s going great! One of the things we’re doing now in the lunchroom is to encourage students not to throw their food away. We learned that 16 percent of our waste (90-100 pounds weekly) is perfectly good, untouched, still packaged food items. If they haven’t touched their sandwich or fruit or treat, students can put it in a Giving Basket and kids who forget their lunch can help themselves to it. What’s left is refrigerated and at the end of the week donated to Arvada’s Blessing Box for the homeless.

The Giving Basket has a Scripture passage, John 6:12: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments so nothing is lost.’” Packaged food has become such a convenience and easy to come by that we’ve lost touch with how much is thrown out; years ago that would have been unheard of. This isn’t just common sense, but a Christian practice that needs to be embodied.

DC: Tell me about your reusable water bottle campaign.

Hensley: Of the 300 students at St. Anne’s only 10 percent typically bring their reusable water bottles to lunch, a lot of kids leave them at their desk and use singe-use containers at lunch. The Green Team had a contest and gave tickets to students who used their reusable bottles in the lunchroom. At the end of two weeks we had a drawing for prizes.

Erin Hensley (left) with students from Shrine of St. Anne Catholic School set up camp at the Arvada Chick-Fil-A April 21 to encourage people to recycle more. (Photo provided)

Making that small switch from disposable to reusable containers helps to both reduce our waste and to reuse. We also did away with little wax cups that were used for kids who didn’t have a drink container at lunch. Those cups would go into the trash. If kids forget to bring a drink, they can get one from the water fountain. It’s a “hard” lesson that isn’t too hard!

DC: What are some small steps families and schools can take to reduce, reuse and recycle?

Hensley: Parents can make sure kids have a way to bring leftovers home. I’m a big fan of Tupperware. If you use plastic sandwich bags, switch to reusable containers. Also, reuse disposable cutlery, which can’t be recycled. Limit disposable beverage containers to occasional—not daily or weekly—use. And when making such purchases, keep in mind that fruit juice pouches are not easily recyclable, but juice boxes are. Keep in mind that convenience comes at a cost: both financially and for our planet.

Everyone can read a book to kids about nature or conservation. The Earth Day 2018 message is: “End plastic pollution.” [One sobering fact from the World Economic Forum Report: if plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.] Remember to take reusable bags when you shop, and to reuse and recycle plastic bags and wrap. Also, refuse freebies and unwanted items from vendors. The stress balls, wristbands, pens and plastic junk are only destined for the dump!

Schools can install a Giving Basket. A teacher or volunteer can take photos of all the untouched food kids throwaway and get that info home to parents. Schools can install paper reuse bins to promote double-side paper use and to repurpose paper. We tied that in with an Earth Art contest, which will be held at Shrine of St. Anne Church. The parishioners will vote on the most visually appealing or informative entry.

We have fun with our projects! Kids are excited to be able to participate and feel like they are making a difference helping the Earth by saving trees and by keeping our planet clean and safe for all life.

Earth Day Tips
Visit: www.earthday.org
Nonprofit Recycling Websites
Colorado Association for Recycling: www.cafr.org
Eco-cycle: www.ecocycle.org