Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal steps up in dramatic fashion

Amy Bryer Brumley

Unique times call for unique action and the Archdiocese of Denver met the call of those in need in new ways this year. The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal provided vital support to its parishes and its people in their time of crisis.

Many generous members of the Church of Northern Colorado stepped up when their Church called on them with donations that answered the immediate funding needs of more than 40 ministries, but the Appeal is still only covering 67 percent of its goal.

Traditionally, the Appeal kicks off two weeks after Easter, but this year the pandemic forced changes in both the Appeal roll-out and the dramatic new needs of the ministries that the Appeal supports.

Virus restrictions on Masses resulted in drastically reduced offertory funds that are used to sustain parish operations. Many parishes were faced with fears of forced layoffs. The archdiocese stepped in to protect parishes by dedicating the first $1 million raised from the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal directly to parishes as emergency relief.

“The archdiocese recognized the extreme pressures its parishes have been experiencing,” said Keith Parsons, Chief Operating Officer of the Archdiocese of Denver.

Funds were quickly sent to grateful parishes.

“Thanks to the support from the Appeal, we were able to keep our parish staff and cover expenses during these difficult times,” said Father Wojciech Gierasimczyk, pastor at St. Anthony of Padua.

But that was just the beginning.

The Archdiocese of Denver found creative ways to continue administering the sacraments, such as Baptism and Marriage. The 37 Catholic schools in the archdiocese found inspiring ways to teach. The archdiocese ordained five new priests in May and livestreamed masses for at least 63 parishes — some in two languages.

Ministries like Centro San Juan Diego assisted more than 500 people in the Hispanic community during the first few months of the crisis and even started a support group for new moms who welcomed their babies this year.

“To be in this country is a blessing and Centro offers you a lot of things to succeed,” said a Centro client and small-business owner.

The Church continues to welcome new faithful through Catholic formation classes and the newly engaged want to learn about creating a Catholic marriage.

But the financial need of 2020 continues. The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal is the best way to help support these ministries and many more. Many Catholics have already been inspired to make sacrifices to help their brothers and sisters in faith.

Parishes are asking parishioners to come together to support the Appeal at Mass on September 19-20.

If you have already given, thank you for your generous support. If you would like more information or are unable to attend Mass on Appeal weekend, please visit archden.org/givenow.

COMING UP: A man for strengthening others

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When the choirs of angels led Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, into the Father’s House on September 3, I hope the seraphic choirmaster chose music appropriate to the occasion.  Had I been asked, I would have suggested the Latin antiphon Ecce sacerdos magnus as arranged by Anton Bruckner. The all-stops-pulled moments in Bruckner’s composition, deploying organ, brass, and full choir, would have been a perfect match for Paul Mankowski’s rock-solid Catholic faith, his heroic ministry, and his robust literary and oratorical style; the a capella sections, softly sung, mirror the gentleness with which he healed souls. Above all, I would have suggested Bruckner’s motet because Father Mankowski truly was what the antiphon celebrates: “a great priest who in his days pleased  God.”

We were friends for some 30 years and I can say without reservation that I have never met anyone like Paul Mankowski. He was off-the-charts brilliant, an extraordinary linguist and scholar; but he wore his learning lightly and was a tremendous wit. He rarely expressed doubts about anything; but he displayed a great sensitivity to the doubts and confusions of those who had the humility to confess that they were at sea. He could be as fierce as Jeremiah in denouncing injustice and dishonesty; but the compassion he displayed to spiritually wounded fellow-priests and laity, who sought healing through the work of grace at his hands, was just as notable a feature of his personality.

His curriculum vitae was singular. The son of working-class parents, he put himself through the University of Chicago working summers in a steel mill. He did advanced degrees at Oxford and Harvard, becoming the sparring partner of a future Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, at the former, and delving deeply into the mysteries of Semitic philology – unfathomable, to most of his friends – at the latter. He taught at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and was pastor of an English-speaking parish in Amman, Jordan. Wherever he was, he lived like a true ascetic; he was also the best company imaginable at a meal or a party.

He was a writer of genius, although his published bibliography is considerably slimmer than it might have been, thanks to the years when he was silenced or censored by his religious superiors. A good example of his ability to combine keen insight and droll humor is his 1992 dissection of the goings-on at the annual convention of the American Academy of Religion (available here). More recently, Father Mankowski drew on his extensive experience as a confessor and spiritual director to pen, with his superiors’ permission, a respectful but sharp critique of his fellow Jesuit James Martin’s book, Building a Bridge (available here). In the decades between those two pieces, and when permitted to do so, he published essays and reviews on a wide range of topics, including literature, politics, Church affairs, biblical translations and the priesthood, while sharing his private musings with friends in a seemingly endless series of pungent parodies, revised song lyrics, and imagined news stories.

Years ago, his friend Father Richard John Neuhaus dubbed Father Mankowski one of the “Papal Bulls:” Jesuits of a certain generation notable for their intellectually sophisticated and unwavering Catholic orthodoxy, which often got them into hot water of various temperatures (including boiling) with their Ignatian brothers and superiors. Paul Mankowski was no bull, papal or otherwise, in a china shop, though. He relished debate and was courteous in it; what he found off-putting was the unwillingness of Catholic progressives to fight their corner with a frank delineation of their position. This struck him as a form of hypocrisy. And while Father Mankowski, the good shepherd, often brought strays back to the Lord’s flock, he was unsparingly candid about what he perceived as intellectual dishonesty, or what he recently deplored as “ignoble timidity” in facing clerical corruption. Paul Mankowski was not a man of the subjunctive, and he paid the price for it.

He is beyond all that now, and I like to imagine St. Ignatius of Loyola welcoming him to the Father’s House with a hearty “Well done, my son.” In this valley of tears, freshly moistened by those who mourn his untimely death at age 66, Father Paul V. Mankowski, SJ, will be remembered by those of us who loved him as a man and a priest who, remaining faithful to his Jesuit and sacerdotal vocations, became a tower of strength for others. This was a man of God. This was a man, whose courageous manliness reflected his godliness.