Week 3: Brett at Shrine of St. Therese in Pueblo

Called to be saints

Two young adults—Brett Baeverstad and Summer Swisher—who are working as teachers in the youth summer program Totus Tuus being offered at parishes across the Denver Archdiocese, are writing a weekly blog about their experiences for the Denver Catholic Register. The week three column by Baeverstad is below.

Another week of Totus Tuus has come and gone. We spent June 16-20 in Pueblo at the Shrine of St. Therese. The week brought a lot of peace to the mission. The people of Pueblo were fantastic and a joy to be around. St. Therese has a beautiful community of families. I saw the true value of strong families and the impact they can make on a parish.

During our day program we had an amazing group of kids. Their passion for their faith is truly remarkable! I was impressed by the reverence and excitement the kids had for the sacraments. We had so many kids wanting to attend confession that we had to turn several people down every day. We even had certain kids that wanted to go several times throughout the week. They knew that by frequenting the sacraments, they were growing closer to God and they were receiving graces we talked about during our “power learning sessions.”

The kids not only showed passion for the sacraments but also for prayer. We teach the kids one of the luminous mysteries each day and then we pray that decade of the rosary. We had so many kids wanting to take one of the prayers in the decade that it was difficult to get through all of the kids and have each one of them participate. I am thankful for their passion and excitement because it makes it so much easier on us to get through the long days.

Our high school program had a smaller group than we have had in the past two years. This was actually very rewarding. Our relationships with the teens became quite strong. What was a quiet group the first night opened up throughout the week and we were able to have some of the most sincere conversations we have had all summer. One student in particular was able to find herself again through these conversations. She told the team after the last day that she had not laughed in a long time and that she was thankful she was now able to laugh again. This was so heartwarming. I am humbled that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of this student’s life and to help her find herself.

These interactions were as beneficial for the teachers as they were for the students. We were just as challenged by the students as we attempted to challenge them. It was a good reminder of the true mission: we are all called to be saints and as we pushed the teens to surrender to Christ, they pushed us to be the best version of ourselves.

I want to thank Pueblo for an amazing week and for inviting us into their diocese to teach. The mission of Totus Tuus came fully alive in Pueblo and I am blessed to have been a part of it.

Brett Baeverstad, 21, is a native of Fort Collins who is studying biomedical engineering at Colorado State University. This is his first summer teaching Totus Tuus. When he’s not studying, he enjoys spending time on the golf course, shooting hoops, skiing and doing anything outside where he can enjoy beautiful Colorado.Brett Baeverstad

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.