Ready for the Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge?

Get drenched, give to ethical research, pray for ALS patients and families

Karna Swanson
Associate Superintendents
Sister Elizabeth Youngs, SCL, (left) and Mary Cohen, drench Superintendent Richard Thompson with ice water as part of the launch of the Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge.

Denver Catholic schools will begin a new academic year Monday, and ice cubes will be involved.

On Friday, Superintendent Richard Thompson launched the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge in which he dared three school principals to “cowboy up” to the ice bucket, which we all know means getting doused with some ice water, give to ethical medical research, and pray.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is a social media phenomenon in which anyone with a bucket of ice water and a video recording device can document themselves getting doused with ice water and post it on a social media channel, all in the name of charity.

The way it works is that the participant makes a video challenging one or several others to either dump a bucket of ice water on their head, or give a donation to a charity. For the most part, the challenge has been used to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and encourage donations to the ALS Association. To date, the campaign has generated $50 million in donations for the charity.

As Thompson explains in a video posted on YouTube Friday, the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge dares participants to (1) “cowboy up” to the ice bucket (2) donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, and (3) engage their school community in prayer for the victims of ALS and their families.

The John Paul II Medical Research Institute, he states, focuses on the most ethical and cost-effective way of conducting medical research to help develop therapies and cures for a variety of diseases, including ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. The institute’s website notes that its research is done “with an emphasis on medical bioethics that is consistent with the dignity of human life.”

The three principals challenged by Thompson include Marc Nestorick, principal at Bishop Machebeuf High School; Tim Gallic, principal at Holy Family High School; and Mark Strawbridge, director of Catholic Schools Activities League and principal at St. Pius X Catholic School. No word yet on if these principals will rise to the challenge.

To learn more about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, please visit: http://www.jp2mri.org/

COMING UP: WATCH: Press conference introducing Bishop-Elect Jorge Rodriguez

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Below is a transcript of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Bishop-Elect Jorge Rodriquez’s comments during the Aug. 25 press conference announcing Bishop-Elect Rodriguez’s new appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Denver.

Archbishop Samuel J Aquila: Thank you very much. As all of you are aware, this morning, it was announced in Rome, noon their time, 4 a.m. our time. I got my first text message at 4:05 a.m. from Bishop Conley congratulating us on the announcement of Bishop-Elect Rodriguez. It is a moment of great joy for the Church of Northern Colorado. It has been a long time waiting for a new auxiliary, and we are truly blessed with one of our own priests. Most of you know Father Rodriguez or know of him; I have known him since 1999, when I was rector of the seminary, he came here to teach and served as vice rector with me and was extremely helpful in beginning St. John Vianney seminary.

It is with great joy that I welcome him, both as a friend and a brother, and now as a co-worker as a bishop — as auxiliary bishop here. And we are truly blessed with his Hispanic background — as most of you know, he was born in Mexico and speaks much better Spanish than I do and will be a tremendous grace and blessing for our Hispanic community, and the fact that we are over 50% Hispanic now within the archdiocese. Today is a day of great joy. His ordination will be on Nov. 4, and we look forward to that. So, without further adieu, it gives me great joy to present to you Bishop-Elect Rodriguez.

Bishop-Elect Jorge Rodriguez: Good morning everyone and thank you very much for being here. It’s meaningful, your presence, especially the seminarians; I heard that you delayed your camping trip just to be here. God bless you. We’re going to make it short, so you can go. (Laughter)

When your receive a phone call from the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington and they tell you the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has named you to be auxiliary bishop of Denver, thats a very humbling experience. What that means that the Holy Father consider me to fit for this important service to the people of God in the people of Colorado; on the other hand, I’m aware of my own personal limitations. Of course, I told them, I was telling the secretary, ‘I don’t know,’ and I remember all the jokes, no? That you have to say all the time first, “no, I don’t” and then immediately say, “yes, yes, yes!” (Laughter)

But sincerely, you feel overwhelmed; that’s a moment in which you feel overwhelmed. I’m grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me. I’m grateful to he archbishop, as he said, was the one who invited me to come to Denver to teach theology, this is why I moved from the Diocese of Rome to the Archdiocese of Denver. And along this year in my personal ministry, I met this wonderful and faithful Catholic community we have here and lots of wonderful people on Colorado. I feel very honored to be able to live in this beautiful state and serve my brothers and sisters here in the archdiocese.

My Hispanic origin connects me particularly to the growing Hispanic community here in Denver and I’ve been able to celebrate, rejoice and to help in their needs. My only wish is to offer my ministry as auxiliary bishop — inspire, because I really find very inspiring the teaching and example of Pope Francis and under the example of the archbishop. I beg for you prayers, that’s what I really need now. I never — like today, I really feel the need of prayers now and everyday all the time throughout these years that the Lord will allow me to serve you in his name. And in everything, may Jesus Christ be praised.

[Bishop-Elect Rodriguez, en Español: Es una experiencia que te llena de humildad cuando de repente te llaman y te dicen que el Santo Padre te ha elegido para ser el obispo auxiliar de Denver. Por un lado, significa que el Papa tiene confianza en ti, en que lo puedes hacer y por otro lado, pues tú te conoces a ti mismo y sabes de tus limitaciones ¿verdad?

Así que le estoy muy agradecido al Santo Padre por este gesto de confianza hacia mí, inmerecido evidentemente, y hacia el Arzobispo pues el Arzobispo, como ustedes sabrán, es el que me invitó a venir aquí hace muchos años, cuando abrieron el seminario me invitó a enseñar teología.

Entonces me moví de la diócesis de Roma a la Arquidiócesis de Denver. Aquí es donde he conocido a la comunidad hispana, ustedes me conocen, he estado por todas partes celebrando Misa: En Ascension, en Queen of Peace, en Holy Cross, esa grandísima y maravillosa comunidad hispana que tenemos y es un honor para mí, con la guía del Arzobispo poder servirles en todo aquello que ustedes necesiten y así caminamos juntos como pueblo de Dios hacia Cristo haciendo la Iglesia más bella y más hermosa. Nada más quiero expresar mi gratitud al Santo Padre, mi gratitud al Arzobispo y pedirles a todos ustedes en verdad que recen por mí porque nunca como hoy he sentido la necesidad de la oración. Que recen por mí hoy y a lo largo de los años que el Señor en su bondad me permita estar aquí para servirles en su nombre y en todo lo que hagamos, que nuestro Señor Jesucristo sea siempre bendito y alabado.]

Kevin Jones, CNA: Father Rodriguez, a lot of Catholics no longer go to the Catholic Church. Either they don’t go to church at all, or they go non-Catholic churches. How do you think the Archdiocese of Denver can reach out and help get Catholics back to the sacramental life?

Bishop-Elect Rodriguez: Thank you very much for your question. The archbishop, since two years ago, has been promoting among the Catholic community the formation of disciple’s journey, we can call, and the Amazing Parish in order to revitalize parishes and bring back Catholics to our pews. If I can, in my limited experience, at Holy Cross, that’s wha we are doing. We are doing this formation of disciples, we are doing this Amazing Parish project, and there’s a lot of life. I think that under [archbishop’s] direction, because he’s the one who as been inviting us to enter into this — reactivate our own communities, people will come back. Especially because people fly away, but Jesus is the one who always attracts and appeals, and as much as we present the true Jesus, I think people will come back, because they really need him.