Celebrate Life at the 2020 Rally & March: ‘Every life is a gift!’

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Thousands of people will take to the streets of downtown Denver on Jan. 11 to celebrate joy over the gift of life and human dignity at the annual Celebrate Life Rally & March.

With this year’s theme, “Every life is a gift!” the rally will feature various guest speakers who will share their testimonies as well as musical performances to brighten up the celebration. Speakers will include Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Michael Moubarek from the Catholic Medical Student Association, and Ramona Trevino, the former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic who will be sharing her testimony on the power of prayer and her transformation from someone who fought for abortion to a warrior who defends life.

“A life is a life. It doesn’t matter if it was an unplanned pregnancy or not,” said Litzy Morán, participant at the Celebrate Life Rally and March 2019.

As usual, the celebration for life will begin with a special Mass in several churches in the area in both English and Spanish. After the Eucharistic celebration, participants will head off to the Colorado State Capital for the scheduled events that will kick off at 1 p.m.

The annual Celebrate Life Rally and March will take place at the Colorado State Capitol Jan. 11, 2020. (Photo by Brandon Young)

At the rally, attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy music by the worship team from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Choir, a mariachi band, and Aztec and Mexican folk dancers. The march will then begin at 2 p.m.

“[Abortion] is the moral evil of our time and we cannot be silent, we cannot be apathetic, we must do what we can to rid our country of this moral evil,” said Lynn Grandon, Program Director of the Respect Life Office at Catholic Charities of Denver. “You must think of what’s going to happen in the future when your children and grandchildren say to you, ‘Mom, Dad, what did you do when abortion was legal? Did you do anything about it?’ You don’t want to feel bad when you have to say to them ‘I did nothing.’ You must do something, and this can be your beginning of doing something about abortion.”

The Celebrate Life Rally and March will take place Saturday, Jan. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the west steps of the Colorado State Capital. Masses beforehand will take place in various parishes of the area, including the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 11:30 a.m. and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 11 a.m. (in Spanish). For more information about special masses, you may check with your local parish.

For more information, visit respectlifedenver.org.

End late term abortion in Colorado

Participants at the Celebrate Life March will also have the chance to sign a petition to get Initiative 120 on the 2020 Colorado ballot to end the practice of late-term abortion in our state. Colorado is one of seven states in the nation that allows abortions for any reason up until birth with no restrictions. By getting Initiative 120 on the ballot, Coloradans will have the opportunity to vote on ending abortions for babies from 22 weeks through birth.

Under Initiative 120, a person conducting a late-term abortion could be subject to having a medical license suspended for a least three years and would be subject to a fine, but no jail time. The initiative would not impose a penalty on a woman receiving the abortion. The only exception to performing a late-term abortion is if the mother’s life is in danger.

In order to get this initiative on the Colorado Ballot in November 2020, supporters must reach the goal of 124,632 valid signatures. Colorado was the first state to lift restrictions on abortion in 1967, but this could change if you join the pro-life movement and sign the petition.
“Come out and stand for the value of every life, show your friends, relatives and neighbors that you are not ashamed to stand for it and work towards the abolishing of abortion in America.” Grandon added.

Initiative 120
Visit respectlifedenver.org/initiative120 to get involved.

COMING UP: Colorado Capuchins celebrate 50th anniversary the same way they serve – humbly

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On May 5, the Colorado Capuchins quietly marked their 50th anniversary of serving in Colorado.

What was intended as a jubilant celebration with Masses from both of Denver’s bishops did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of public Masses. However, the friars of the Capuchin Province of St. Conrad celebrated by doing what they do best: humbly serving the people of Colorado.

In the spirit of the present circumstances, however, they also began reaching out to people in a socially-distant way. They began livestreaming a Mass from the St. Francis of Assisi Friary for the faithful to tune into and are creating a series of videos on their rich 50-year history here in Colorado. Additionally, the friars have been posting daily videos of encouragement on their YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/CapuchinFranciscans). The Masses can also be viewed there.

In a blog post published on the Capuchins’ website July 12, Brother Mark Schenk, O.F.M Cap., Provincial Vicar of the St. Conrad Province in Denver, wrote about the mission of the Capuchin Franciscans in Denver over the past 50 years.

“This year our province joyfully commemorates 50 years of Capuchin presence in Colorado,” Brother Schenk wrote. “Pope Pius XI once said of the Capuchins, ‘When help was sorely needed, in places that were abandoned and where no one else would go, there you will find the Capuchins.’

“Over the past 50 years, we have striven to be faithful to that identity, bearing the joy of the Gospel to the marginalized and forgotten. It was need that brought us westward and it was need that inspired our multitude of ministries to the poor, lost, sick, dying and imprisoned of Colorado.”

Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

The Capuchins came out west to Kansas in 1878 in response to a request from Bishop Louis Mary Fink of Leavenworth to care for the numerous German-speaking immigrants from Russia’s Volga River who were settling in the area around Hays. In 1970, following the Capuchin charism of going where they are needed, they expanded their ministry to Colorado at the request of Archbishop James Casey, who needed assistance in pulling Annunciation Parish in Denver back together.

On the morning of May 5, 1970, Father Paulinus Karlin and another friar on loan from Puerto Rico left Kansas and drove to Annunciation where a new chapter of Capuchin history began. The Capuchins remain at Annunciation Parish to this day, where they continue to embody the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi in brotherhood, poverty and fierce dedication to the parish and the people in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Today we continue the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi, bearing the Gospel to peoples and places that are neglected and forgotten,” Brother Schenk wrote. “Whether it be in the poor parishes ministering to immigrant populations, in the hospitals and care centers where our friars kneel in prayer at deathbeds or on the city streets where we offer food and fraternal love to the downcast and destitute, we want to venture where no one else will go.”

In March, the friars began livestreaming Mass from the St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver. Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

Among the many footprints the Capuchins have laid down in Colorado is the Samaritan House, which is now the largest Catholic homeless shelter in Colorado. Although they are no longer directly involved with its operation, the friars helped to plant the seeds for it through their Samaritan Shelter opened in 1982, and they maintain a constant presence there through a friar who serves as a chaplain.

One of the more innovative ways that the Friars reach out to those in need is through a food truck that the province launched in November 2018. Painted Franciscan brown with colorful artwork depicting local friars engaged in ministry as well as Saints Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, and Blessed Solanus Casey, the truck includes white text on the back acknowledging partnership with the Routzon Family Foundation, while messaging on the sides identifies it as belonging to the Capuchins and describing their mission as “Messengers of God’s mercy” and “Brothers to those in need.”

Two Sundays a month the truck heads to downtown sites where the homeless gather. There, friars and volunteers hand out sack lunches and beverages. They also give out seasonal items those living on the street may need such as hats, gloves and socks. Resources the poor can avail themselves of such as medical and mental health services are listed on the lunch bags.

“At first the people were hesitant because they saw a food truck and thought they had to pay,” said Capuchin Brother Jude Quinto, recalling the truck’s first run Nov. 25. “But when they saw friars in brown habits running around, then they knew what we were up to and a crowd started forming.”

The friars opened a food truck in November 2018 as a way to help the homeless of Denver have access to free, healthy meals. Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

Additionally, in 2011, the friars founded the Julia Greeley guild in honor of Julia Greeley, a former slave and lay Franciscan whose cause for canonization is currently underway. If she is canonized, she would be the first saint declared from Colorado.

Today, pandemic or not, the Capuchin Franciscans of the St. Conrad Province continue to live out their charism of brotherhood and sharing the Gospel with those who need it most/

“We continue to seek out the abandoned places where aid is sorely needed,” Brother Schenk concluded, “working alongside the laity to bear the good news of the Gospel where the need is desperate and few are willing to go.”