Pope Francis responds to letters from Blessed Sacrament students

Aaron Lambert

Last week, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School received a surprise of papal proportions.

Back in February, Nancy Lowell’s first grade class wrote some letters to Pope Francis. This assignment was two-fold: to show off their newly learned penmanship skills and ask the Holy Father questions only the innocent minds of first graders would think to ask – questions such as asking Pope Francis to tell God to help a student’s cat so they “don’t need to send her back.”

Last week, they got a letter in response from the Vatican.

“We got a response back from his secretary that the Pope read the letters,” Blessed Sacrament principal Dr. Carla Dire Capstick said. He was very impressed with our students and blessed them.”

The letter in response read: “His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to receive your kind messages. He thanks all of you for writing to him and he is grateful for your prayers. The Holy Father will pray for you and your teachers, and he sends his blessing.”

The kids in Mrs. Lowell’s class were very excited and surprised, as they expressed when 9News interviewed them.

The Vatican responded on behalf of Pope Francis to letters first grade students at Blessed Sacrament sent the Holy Father in February to show off their newly-learned penmanship skills. (Photos by Brandon Ortega)

While it normally can take months to get a response from the Vatican, this one came after just four weeks.

“To get a response as quickly as we did, that these kids could enjoy knowing that the Pope wrote them back and it was a heartfelt response was very impactful and heartwarming for our kids,” Dr. Capstick said.

It was a small gesture from the Pope that made a big impression on the students of Blessed Sacrament.

“A little Catholic school in Denver, Colorado, many thousands of miles away from the Vatican actually had an impact on the Pope,” Dr. Capstick said. “To know he responded is very impactful [in] our Blessed Sacrament community.

“It’s highly likely that we’ve set a tradition that Ms. Nancy Lowell will be doing this annually with her kids once they learn how to write complete sentences.”

To learn more about the exciting things happening in Denver’s Catholic schools, visit denvercatholicschools.com.

COMING UP: Catholic Charities joins with St. Raphael Counseling to increase services

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Two Catholic counseling agencies serving the Denver Archdiocese have united to expand services to the community, officials said. The change was effective May 1.

St. Raphael Counseling, founded in 2009, has partnered with Catholic Charities’ Sacred Heart Counseling (formerly Regina Caeli Clinical Services), which was established in 2011. The two are now one ministry under Catholic Charities of Denver sharing the name St. Raphael Counseling.

Licensed clinical psychologist Jim Langley, co-founder of St. Raphael’s, will serve as director.

“Frankly, it seemed kind of silly for two entities to be doing the same thing from the same pool of resources,” Langley told the Denver Catholic.  “I reached out to [Catholic Charities] … to see about removing obstacles. It really must have been from the Lord because there weren’t any big obstacles.”

The combined resources mean clients seeking care aligned with Catholic values will now have access to more therapists and locations: a total of 18 clinicians at 11 offices and six schools across the Front Range region, including Denver, Littleton and northern Colorado.

In the coming months, St. Raphael’s will accept more insurances and will introduce diagnostic testing for behavioral and learning disorders and Autism to families at affordable cost, Langley said.

“We are excited to welcome the team of psychologists from St. Raphael Counseling to Catholic Charities,” said Amparo García, interim president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver. “Under Dr. Langley’s guidance, and with his expertise and business acumen, the team has built a trusted and professional counseling service that is faithful to the Church and compassionate to those in need.

“We are optimistic that offering expanded services in a combined organization will provide an added benefit to the community.”

St. Raphael’s offers individuals, couples and families clinical counseling services for issues ranging from depression and anxiety to grief and addiction. It also offers marriage preparation, school counseling, psychological evaluations for seminary applicants, and counseling for priests and religious. It provides outreach and education through presentations and retreats that integrate psychology and spirituality.

St. Raphael’s is named after the Archangel Raphael, who in the Old Testament Book of Tobit is sent by God to help the young man Tobias confront nature and evil. Raphael helps to bring healing to Tobias’ family. Of Hebrew origin, Raphael means “God heals.”

“The name was chosen very deliberately,” Langley said. “We [as therapists] are only instruments of God’s healing, God’s medicine; it’s ultimately God who heals.

“One of the ways the Lord has given us as a path to holiness is through our own brokenness,” he added. “We all have emotional wounds and the healing of these wounds helps us to become the saints God made us to be.

“We work with individuals and families to help them face their woundedness, their brokenness. We do it in a way that is supportive of their Catholic values and can leverage all the awesome, beautiful things about Catholic spirituality that can help us grow as people.”

The recent suicides of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade show that no one is immune from depression and suicidal thoughts, Langley said.

“Even St. Therese [of Lisieux] said there were moments when she was tempted by the medicine bottle on the nightstand,” he noted about the saint who was named a Doctor of the Church in 1997. “We think of her as being a joyful saint, yet she too struggled immensely with depression.

“If people are struggling, they need help,” Langley said. “But counseling isn’t just for people with big issues. It’s also for those who have normal issues and are trying to have a healthy family life.

“There’s nobody who doesn’t need support and good human relationships.”

RAPHAEL COUNSELING

Visit: straphaelcounseling.com

Phone: 720-377-1359