Single parent ministry begins in Denver

Single parent ministries are not common in the United States. In fact, two separate women in the Archdiocese of Denver were only able to find one in the entire country. Despite this, both Terry King and Jo Holt resolved to bring single parent ministry to Denver. Neither knew what they other was doing.

Update: Since this story was originally posted, St. Thomas More contacted the Denver Catholic and informed us of a single parents ministry at their parish. The story has been expanded to include this new information.

Terry King
Terry King has been a single mom for 20 years. She fought to keep her family Catholic, even going so far as to get a court order to pick up her children early on Sundays so that she could bring them to evening Mass.

“It sounds great, but it was really hard,” King said. “The transition time between houses is terrible. They were young kids and were misbehaving, and the whole church was full of happy young couples. I just wanted to cry.”

King says that she wished that another parishioner would offer to help or, better yet, invite her to dinner or a parish event. Even though she was struggling to raise her children in the church, she often felt like she didn’t belong.

“[Single parenting] can be very isolating, especially in the Church, believe it or not,” she said. “Everything is aimed at couples, and it’s all about marriage. It’s hard to just show up by yourself.”

A few years after her youngest child went to college, King graduated from Denver Catholic Biblical School. She said she had been so blessed in formation, and was so on fire for her faith that she knew she needed to give back. She began to look around for single parent ministries in the diocese she could help with.

She discovered there weren’t any.

“I googled single parent ministries, and the only thing that came up was a parish in Texas,” she said.

She told her boss and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist in Loveland, Bob Dehn, about her dilemma. He offered to pay for her to go to Texas and learn how to start a single parent ministry in the Archdiocese.

From there, King says things began to snowball.

“It’s been so cool. I just had this idea in my head, then my boss sends me to see it, and then I saw my pastor and he said, ‘go!'” she said.

The single parent ministry had it’s first meeting Oct. 9. King said the basic structure of the meetings will include either a talk or social time, and then some kind of spiritual formation. She would also like the group to do service projects.

“Even though we’re needy, it would be good to go out and serve others. It takes you’re mind off your own needs, and it’s what we’re called to do, regardless,” she said.

She also hopes to find ways to integrate married families and singles in the parish. She said it can be especially hard for single parents to come to parish events, because they are usually aimed at two-parent families and single parents can worry that they aren’t welcome.

“It’s good that single parents know that their place is right alongside the other families. They’ll feel more comfortable going to parish things with someone else,” she said.

King said the support she has received has been slightly overwhelming. She said this has been a very healing experience. For example, when she addressed the Masses at her parish to tell them about the ministry, she was shocked at the many offers for childcare and other forms of help.

“I just got up and said how isolated I have felt over the years, but I started to think that maybe I didn’t need to feel that way,” King said. “They’re willing to support, but they didn’t know there was a need to support.”

Regardless of what happens, she said she is humbled and excited to see how God has used her experience as a single parent.

“I never would have thought that my single parenthood would have come to this–to something positive,” she said.

For more information on single parent ministries at St. John the Evangelist, email singleparentfamilyministry15@gmail.com

Jo Holt

Holt is the Director of Marriage and Family Life at St. Thomas More parish in Centennial. She was approached two years ago by a single parent who challenged the way she thought, so she began to read about single parents and Catholicism.

“I was kind of surprised by some of the research I found,” Holt said. “Sixty seven percent of today’s single parents are not actively attending a local church.”

Holt polled the single people in the pew, and discovered there was quite a bit of woundedness in their relationship with the Church. She also discovered that single-parent families are much more varied than she had initially thought.

“You usually think of single-parent families as being divorced, but that isn’t necessarily true. In our single parent ministry, we have some who are divorced, some who are widowed, and some who never married but chose life for their child,” Holt said.

She said there are also military families with a deployed parent, or families where one parent travels for work for a week or more at a time.

Holt used her research to develop a nine-month curriculum for single parent ministry. She said her program aims at working with single parents intensively for nine months, then sending them out to either guide other single parents, or help other ministries become more single-parent friendly.

“It’s our desire to form them, and then send them forth. We want them to go forth and bring this to other ministries, to lead other single parents,” Holt said. She also said that all the single parents gather once a month for a social night. They use Flocknote to communicate the time and location of the event.

Holt hopes to have her curriculum ready for distribution by January. She says she wants to see every parish in the country offer some kind of support to single parents. However, even if a parish does not have the ability to offer a specific ministry to single parents, there are simple things they can do to make single parents feel welcome.

“It seems like there are a lot of single parents out there who feel like they have been forgotten. Sometime the omitting of something can feel like the exclusion thereof,” Holt said.

She suggested that parishes try to offer childcare during events as much as possible. She also thought that something as simple as a table at “Donut Sunday” with coloring sheets for kids could allow single parents to interact with other adults.

She also said that homilies were frequently mentioned as a source of pain for single parents. She suggested clergy consider prayerfully discerning how they talk about families.

“Do not abandon the truth about the importance of two-parent families, but recognize that single parents are in the audience listening. If you fail to mention them, along with their strength and courage, they might feel unwelcomed in your parish. We want to be a resource for single parents, not something they are running away from,” Holt said.

For more information on Single Parent ministries at St. Thomas More, email info@raisedinthefaith.com

 

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.