Big ideas reap big benefits for seniors

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A group of Bishop Machebeuf High School seniors got big ideas about their faith—and won big after they shared it.

Sister John Peter Clarke, O.P., charged the 11 seniors in her Catholic leadership class with the Big Idea Project, an assignment to create a four-minute video depicting a need in the community and a solution based on Catholic social doctrine.

Senior Clare Lowrey and her classmates worked to show middle school students—who may experience loneliness and low self-esteem—that God is merciful and loving. They spent their Monday nights at St. Thomas More Church’s Bible study for children to participate in discussions and share their own lives.

They learned patience, self-motivation, perseverance and leadership, the seniors reported.

“Self-giving became a big part of our work,” the seniors in the “Go-Getter” team wrote. “It is incredible the outcome when you open yourself up to a person. An outpouring of self through personal storytelling, small acts of service, and investing time in others destroys barriers and builds solidarity.”

In result, the team of four seniors—including Clare Lowrey, Rebecca Haven, Faustine Sullivan and Ricky Pruneda—won a $2,000 scholarship toward college after presenting their video to a panel of judges.

The project originated from Columbine High School in Littleton and has spread to different high schools in the state. It’s focused on cultivating leadership that empowers others to reach their full potential.

“The Big Idea Project, while not explicitly Christian, fits wonderfully well with our core values and the virtue of magnanimity,” Sister Clarke said. “Students in Catholic Leadership learned from the Big Idea Project’s concepts and applications of generous leadership as well as other key sources on leadership.”

The seniors read and analyzed leadership qualities in  “Strengths-based Leadership”, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” and “The Pope and the CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard.”

Another team of students spent time at St. Therese School in Aurora and realized their need for more athletic equipment. Seniors John Keyte, Joseph La Rosa and Kate Merth raised $2,000 to benefit their efforts. The Truth Finders team—made of Stephanie Montes, Stephany Vazquez, Myranda Weakland and Luke Weinmann—raised student awareness about how living one’s faith helps self-image and benefits others.

The project culminated in presenting their video, scripts and edits of their documentaries to a panel of judges. The Go-Getter team has a chance to compete at the state level and receive $1,500 toward college costs.

“The Big Idea Project is a great way for Machebeuf students not only to compete but also, and more importantly, to share the magnanimity, the mission, and the mercy of Jesus Christ,” Sister Clarke said.

“One thing I did not expect from the Big Idea Project is that we would benefit so much from this endeavor,” Lowrey wrote. “Ultimately, we learned to trust in each other. We learned that leaders lead from the front lines, but they need their fellow soldiers.”

 

COMING UP: From rare books to online resources, archdiocesan library has long history of service to students

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National Library Week, observed this year from April 4 to April 10, is the perfect occasion to highlight the essential role of libraries and library staff in strengthening our communities – and our very own Cardinal Stafford Library at the Archdiocese of Denver is no exception.  

Since 1932, the library has served as a religious, intellectual, and cultural resource for seminarians and students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As the library of the seminary, we are always responsible for the four dimensions of the priestly formation of our seminarians. The library is charged with being responsible to all the divisions of the Seminary: the Lay Division (Catholic Biblical School and Catholic Catechetical School), the Permanent Deacon Formation Division, and the Priestly Formation Division, said Stephen Sweeney, Library Director. 

In addition to being one of the main resources to the seminary, the Cardinal Stafford Library serves the needs of other educational programs in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the St. Francis School for Deacons, the Biblical School, the Catechetical School and the Augustine Institute. While the library is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously open to anyone, giving people access to more than 150,000 books, audios, and videos. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library was named after Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican and former Archbishop of Denver from 1986 to 1996. He was a dedicated advocate of the library and of Catholic education.

In 1932, the library was established by two seminarians, Maurice Helmann and Barry Wogan. While they were not the first seminarians to conceive the idea of establishing a library, they are considered the founders for undertaking its organization.  

Since its founding, the library has grown and compiled a fine collection of resources on Catholic theology, Church history, biblical studies, liturgy, canon law, religious art, philosophy, and literature. Special collections include over 500 rare books dating back to the early 16th century and many periodicals dating back to the 1800s. The oldest publication in the library is a book on excommunication published in 1510. The Cardinal Stafford Library is also home to various relics and holds bills personally written by some of those saints.  

Over the past few years, the library has undergone a process of beautification through various renovations that include improvements in lighting, flooring, and even furniture restoration. During these difficult times, libraries are doing their best to adapt to our changing world by expanding their digital resources to reach those who don’t have access to them from home. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library provides a community space; we subscribe to about 200 print journals and have access to literally thousands more through online resources available on campus computers, Sweeney added. “I have been the Library Director for almost 11 years. I absolutely love my work, especially participating in the intellectual formation of the faithful from all of the dioceses we serve”.  

For more information on the Cardinal Stafford Library, visit: sjvdenver.edu/library 

Featured photo by Andrew Wright