Bishop Machebeuf’s ‘Shut Down for Service’ day enriches community

Moira Cullings

Every year, students at Bishop Machebeuf High School take a break from classes to go out and serve their community for an entire day.

Known as “Shut Down for Service” day, the students often accomplish significant tasks, which benefit a variety of people and organizations in need, in a matter of hours.

When Cari Ervin, Director of Activities at Windsor Gardens, an active adult living community in Denver, reached out to the school to promote a lifeguard position, she was asked if Windsor Gardens could use any help from the students for their day of giving.

“I had been wanting to do a large community event like this,” said Ervin. “It was the perfect opportunity when they asked if we could receive some students for the service day.”

Windsor Gardens had been wanting to partner with Arc Thrift Store to give their residents the chance to donate unwanted belongings to the store.

Around 50 students from Bishop Machebeuf High School spent their “Shut Down for Service” day at Windsor Gardens in Denver. (Photos provided)

“But even though we are an active adult living community, there are some residents who don’t necessarily have the ability to load up their car with unwanted items to donate or dispose of them,” said Ervin.

The task was perfect for the more than 50 Bishop Machebeuf students who showed up at Windsor Gardens ready to help collect boxes for Arc.

While one group spent time helping the residents with their cell phones, apps and emails, among other elements of the technology world, the rest of the students spread out throughout the 72-building community, tackling the more than 2,500 condo units to collect donation boxes for Arc.

“It’s a huge task and something that made me a little bit nervous,” said Ervin. “But it worked incredibly smooth and operated well and we got everything covered.”

The residents were able to simply set boxes of items they wanted to donate right outside their door, and the students walked up and down the hallways picking them up.

The students collected more than 1,000 boxes, filling up two semi-trucks, in the span of a few hours.

Although it wasn’t Bishop Machebeuf’s intention, Ervin scheduled the day as a fundraiser, so Arc gave credit of more than $1,000 back to the school — a dollar for each box collected.

The Bishop Machebeuf students collected more than 1,000 boxes from residents at Windsor Gardens to donate to Arc Thrift Store. (Photos provided)

Ervin only heard positive feedback from the residents, “which is amazing when you’re working with so many residents,” she said.

“I think our residents love that youthful energy around,” she added, “just to see the promise of the future.”

The Arc employees were also grateful for the students’ hard work.

“They really appreciated the help of the students with that loading process,” said Ervin. “They were overjoyed and amazed at the success of the event.”

Tami Bonner, General Manager at Windsor Gardens, said teaming up with the young people from Bishop Machebeuf was “a huge success and truly impacted the community in a positive way.

“While we always enjoy impacting the greater community in any way we can, what a blessing it was to have this great community of young people from outside our walls come in and serve our people, while at the same time helping us serve Arc,” said Bonner.

“When different communities come together in this way, everyone is a winner,” she said. “We are excited to see how this partnership can grow in the future.”

COMING UP: Repenting and renewing our role as shepherds

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Jesus tells the disciples in St. John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” contrasting his goodness with the thieves who come only to steal and destroy.  This past week my fellow U.S. bishops and I sought to act as good shepherds by approving three measures to increase our vigilance and prevention of the evil of sexual abuse by bishops, shepherds who have betrayed the flock entrusted to them.

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day, which should remind biological and spiritual fathers of their great responsibility of protecting and raising up new life. This mission is further emphasized by the Rite for the Ordination of a Bishop, which says, “In the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.” This is the model for all bishops.

But the scandals of Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield and others have made it clear that our vigilance has not been adequate. To quote from the just-issued “Affirming Our Episcopal Commitment” statement, “We, the bishops of the United States, have heard the anger expressed by so many within and outside of the Church over these failures.  The anger is justified; it has humbled us, prompting us into self-examination, repentance, and a desire to do better.” This sentiment was clear in my interactions with my fellow bishops in Baltimore this past week.

As evidence of our commitment, we overwhelmingly passed a set of directives for the bishops’ conference to implement Pope Francis’ Vos estis lux mundi document on handling abuse by priests and bishops. These directives include the creation by May 31, 2020 of a third-party phone and online system that receives reports of potential violations by bishops, the establishment of a protocol in which the Holy See designates and authorizes metropolitan archbishops to investigate cases of alleged abuse by bishops, and the expectation that the investigating bishop involve lay experts in assisting with these inquiries. For any investigations that falls under my jurisdiction, I will ensure that lay experts are involved, as I’ve done throughout my time as a bishop. As the new directives indicate, I will also appoint a lay person to receive complaints from the third-party reporting system, publicize how to make reports, ascertain the credibility of reports and gather any additional information necessary for an investigation to commence.

I also want to highlight that the bishops overwhelmingly approved protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons and that we adopted a code of conduct for bishops, which explicitly states that the Dallas Charter will now include bishops.

All these measures are in addition to those we have been enforcing since 2002 in relation to preventing sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Archdiocese of Denver has a strong track record of actively working to protect children, including annual audits, background checks of employees and clergy, and a code of conduct that previous bishops and I have all signed, and a robust training program aimed at fostering safe environments for children. The effectiveness of these measures over the past 20 years has made us a model for other institutions seeking to combat abuse.

Pope Francis rightly noted in a January 2019 personal letter to the U.S. bishops that the consequences of our failures cannot be fixed by being administrators of new programs or committees.  They can only be resolved by humility, listening, self-examination and conversion.

My brother bishops and I hope that by obeying the Word of God, seeking the will of the Father and embracing what the Church expects of us, we will imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Read more

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi can be read at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html

The USCCB Directives implementing Vos estis can be read at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/2019-june-meeting/upload/usccb-modified-amended-directives-2019-06.pdf

Reach out

Christi Sullivan serves as the Protection Specialist for the Office of Child and Youth Protection and can be reached at 303-715-3241 or Christi.Sullivan@archden.org.

Victims of abuse can reach out to Dr. Jim Langley, the Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 720-239-2832 or Victim.Assistance@ArchDen.org.