‘Amazing’ parishes pray hard, work smart

After attending the Amazing Parish Conference in Denver last spring, Chris Arth is looking forward to praying more and doing less in his parish this year.

“The Amazing Parish Conference was a great reminder that sometimes you have to clean out the closets and get rid of things you don’t use anymore,” said Arth, “or in this instance, programs or activities that consume resources and do not support our mission.”

Arth, who has worked in parish ministry for 15 years, currently serves as the parish administrator at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, Kan. He attended the Amazing Parish Conference in April as a member of his parish leadership team, during which the group participated in sessions that emphasized the importance of aligning parish activities with an overall strategy and vision.

A third Amazing Parish Conference will be held Aug. 11-12 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Speakers include author and Amazing Parish co-founder Patrick Lencioni, Bible scholar Jeff Cavins, Catholic Leadership Institute president Matt Manion, Christian musician Matt Maher and “Rebuilt” author Father Michael White, among others.

Joe Ferdani, pastoral council member at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Northglenn told Denver Catholic that the Amazing Parish Conference helped his pastor, Father James Spahn, to begin developing a parish vision and plan for creating missionary disciples.

“This conference allows you to step outside your comfort zone and truly assess the health of your parish,” Ferdani said. “You identify where you’re doing well, where you’re struggling and what God is calling you to do right now to transform your parish.”

“It starts with asking the question: ‘What makes our parish community unique?’ In other words, when you look at the community your parish serves, what do you see? From there, you build your plan,” he added.

Parishes are required to bring a team of 3-5 leaders, including their pastor. Organizers of the Amazing Parish movement want nothing less than to engage every single parish in the country.

“Our goal is to build a national movement so that every parish that wants to be amazing will know there is a community of other parishes who want the same thing,” said Lencioni. “We are seeing a tremendous hunger among pastors and parish leaders from across the United States.”

According to Ferdani, parishes face numerous daily demands, “and it can be easy to fall into maintaining what you have rather than focusing on how you can move your parish from good to great.”

He said the Amazing Parish Conference “gives you the framework for accomplishing this most important work. It starts with an amazing team that supports and trusts one another, a clear vision, and a commitment to prayer.”

Arth said the conference re-invigorated his team, and offered help that was “meaningful, practical and informational.” For example, Arth noted that as a parish they are now taking steps to be “more ‘radically’ hospitable,” but first and foremost, they are making sure all their efforts are grounded in prayer.

“As a result of Amazing Parish, we are praying more together as a staff,” he said. “Seems basic, but we have taken it to heart. It is what separates us from a corporate staff.”

To find out more about the Amazing Parish movement, visit www.amazingparish.org. Financial assistance is available through the Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado.

Participants at the first Amazing Parish Conference in Denver.

Participants at the first Amazing Parish Conference in Denver. Photo by Nissa LaPoint/Denver Catholic

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.