Archdiocesan campus adds ‘saint’ to official name

John Paul II’s newly acquired title of saint means signs bearing his name need an update.

This week the Denver Archdiocese is replacing signage at its headquarter entrances along Steele Street and Arizona Avenue to reflect the pontiff’s April 27 canonization.

The nearly 37-acre campus named after John Paul II, who came to Denver for World Youth Day 1993, was renamed The Saint John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization.

The archdiocese’s corporate name will also be updated to include “saint.”

Denver chancellor David Uebbing said Archbishop Samuel Aquila changed the name to reflect the Church’s recognition of the late pope.

“Archbishop Aquila has chosen to change the name of the pastoral center to The St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, because it reflects the heavenly reality and the Church’s recognition of it,” Uebbing said. “It also calls to mind the powerful intercession we have in St. John Paul II, who is a powerful intercessor for advancing the cause of the new evangelization and will continue to beseech the father, son and Holy Spirit to make it fruitful.”

The archbishop signed a decree making the change official April 28.

Workers began to install new brick signs etched with brown lettering this week at two entrances.

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The Denver Archdiocese has its roots in the early 1900s when the center’s campus was purchased by the Vincentians. Rapid growth along the Front Range made the southeast Denver land ideal for the order’s new seminary. Historians cite the St. Thomas Seminary (now St. John Vianney Theological Seminary) as one of the greatest assets of the Church in Northern Colorado.

In subsequent decades, more buildings were added to the campus, including the Italian Renaissance-style St. Thomas Seminary Chapel (now Christ the King Chapel), a two-story brick convent that housed 16 nuns, and a theology wing. The campus also features a prominent bell tower and the Cardinal Stafford Library.

In Feb. 1996, the archdiocese purchased the property and announced that the campus would be renamed “The John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization” after the inspiration of the pope’s 1993 visit to Denver.

Later, two seminaries were founded on the campus: the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in 1996, and the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in 1999. The archdiocesan ministry offices were also moved to the campus.

In recent years, the archdiocese has added an addition and a chapel to the Redemptoris Mater seminary and the Spirituality Year House for first-year seminarians.

This year, the archdiocese began construction on the Holy Trinity Center. The new multi-use facility is designed to address space woes and serve as an asset to faithful for the next 100 years.

See the timeline for more details about the campus’ history.

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”