Chancery support empowers parishes to focus on ministry and evangelization

Annual appeal funds crucial behind-the-scenes services to parishes

Aaron Lambert

Though she is made up of one body in Christ, the operation of the Church within the Archdiocese of Denver has a lot of moving parts.

It’s for this reason that the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) is essential to the continued work of the Church here in northern Colorado. The ACA funds nearly 40 ministries and offices, and a substantial chunk of those are located at the chancery, which strives to provide vital support to parishes. Think of it this way: If parishes are the frontlines of where ministry and evangelization happen, then the chancery is where backup is deployed from. When a parish ministry needs extra help, they can turn to the chancery.

A lot of the services the chancery provides are conducted behind the scenes. This newspaper you hold in your hands, for example, is one of them. However, these services are many and varied; they include, but are not limited to: Communications, finance, human resources, Catholic schools, evangelization, the tribunal, construction and planning, real estate, liturgy and more.

The reality is that there is simply too much work to be done at the parish level, and every parish is unique and has differing levels of access to resources. The chancery and all its offices are available to fill those needs when they arise.

“We’ve been supported in many different ways, especially these past couple of months, most notably by the Office of Finance and Communications,” said Karen Surbrugg, business manager at Guardian Angels Parish in Mead. “We’ve had access to webinars, weekly updates, recommendations, access to technical support, just to name a few. Aside from the material support from the chancery, more importantly we feel emotionally and spiritually supported.”

Surbrugg said that this support has been especially appreciated amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Daily we’re faced with the reminder that we’re working in a parish without its people physically present,” she said. “Having the support of the staff from the chancery helps us meet those challenges in a hopeful way.”

For a small parish like Guardian Angels, oftentimes staff and resources are limited and they can’t operate at the same capacity as larger parishes. From a communications standpoint, Surbrugg is grateful for the support she receives from the Communications, Marketing and Parish Services office at the chancery.

“I think the thing that I most appreciate is the ‘ready to go’ correspondence that we can use to communicate with our parishioners,” Surbrugg said. “We’re a small parish and we don’t have the resources to produce professional, timely communication for our parishioners. At a time when communication is vital to keep our parish connected and informed, having access to flyers, narratives, and links, helps tremendously.

“Working in a small parish and wearing many hats, we’re typically Jacks of all trades, masters of none. There’s no way we’d be able to produce the quality of material that we’ve received from the Archdiocese. Having access to Flocknote, our website, Facebook, and email, we’re able to take this material directly from our weekly communication [we receive] and pass it along to our parishioners.”

Kathryn Nygaard, Director of Communications for Light of the World Parish in Littleton, has put in multiple requests for assistance from the chancery over the past six months, specifically with their website and other communications.

“I originally reached out to request support because I wanted a clean and beautiful design [for our website], along with some very specific functions for a couple new webpages,” Nygaard said. “I was unsure how to implement this myself and wanted to discuss it with someone with more expertise. The Communications Office was able to help implement all of my requests in a very timely manner.”

As parishes and the greater Church navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing societal norms which prohibit large gatherings for the time being, it is vital for communications efforts to be timely and efficient. More than just aiding with this and other matters, however, the chancery serves as a common tethering point for all parishes and a reminder to them that they are not alone.

“In a time of isolation, the communication from the chancery allows us to come together as family united in Christ,” Surbrugg said. “It shows me that we’re not in this alone and that our parish, albeit small, matters. I feel connected to the Archdiocese and other parishes knowing that we’re all facing the same challenges, regardless of our size and location.”

Having a common point of contact in the chancery also allows an opportunity for collaborative efforts between parishes, which are crucial in a time such as this when parishes are finding creative ways to show their commitment in sharing the Gospel.

“I love that the Archdiocese shares ideas that come in from parishes around the Archdiocese. This collaboration reminds me that we are one family working together to help each other, lift each other up, and be there in good times and bad,” Surbrugg said.

“The efforts and sacrifices made by the staff at the chancery are appreciated beyond words. We are truly grateful.”

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COMING UP: Archbishop: In this time of need, join me for a Rosary Crusade

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When God chose to enter the world to save us, he chose Mary, whose deep faith provided the way for Jesus to come among us. She believed in the words of the angel, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1: 37). As she expressed her deep confidence in the promises of God, the Word became flesh. In our current time of crisis, our Church, world and our country need faith in God and the protection and intercession of Mary. And so, beginning on August 15, I am launching a Rosary Crusade to ask Mary to urgently bring our needs to Jesus.

The last several months of the coronavirus epidemic, the civil unrest that has broken out in different parts of the archdiocese and our nation, and the challenges the Church is facing have made the need for Mary’s intercession abundantly clear. Mary is our Mother and desires only our good like the Father.

In her appearance to Juan Diego, Our Lady reminded him and reminds us today, “Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.  Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

Saint Padre Pio, who was known for his devotion to the Rosary offers us this advice: “In times of darkness, holding the Rosary is like holding our Blessed Mother’s hand.”

We turn to Mary in our difficulty because she is our spiritual mother, who with her “yes” to the Lord embraced the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. She is “the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that ‘nothing will be impossible with God,’ and was able to magnify the Lord: ‘For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #273).

We know, too, from history that Mary has answered prayers brought to her through the Rosary and that she has personally asked people to pray it for the most serious needs, especially for the conversion of souls.

Pope Pius V famously asked all Christians to pray the Rosary in 1571 to prevent Christianity from being overrun by the invading Ottoman Turks, and the Christian naval forces were subsequently victorious in the Battle of Lepanto. In the apparitions at Fatima, Mary identified herself as “The Lady of the Rosary” and asked the shepherd children to whom she appeared to pray a daily Rosary for world peace and the end of World War I.

During his pontificate, Saint John Paul II spoke of the Rosary as his favorite prayer. In his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, he added, “The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort” (RVM, 2).

This past May, Pope Francis encouraged praying the Rosary, saying, “Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial.”

During this time of trial, we need to hear the words of Jesus spoken often in the Gospel, words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, “Be not afraid.” We need to pray especially for a deeper trust and hear the words of Elizabeth spoken to Mary in our own hearts. “…blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The Lord is with us in this time as he has promised! Praying the rosary helps us, with the aid of our Mother, to relive in our own lives the mysteries of Christ’s life.

I personally invite all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver to pray the Rosary every day between the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, August 15, through the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. I would be remiss if I did not thank Bishop Carl Kemme of Wichita for inspiring this Rosary Crusade by launching one in his diocese at the beginning of August.

As we unite in asking Mary for her intercession and protection, please pray for the following intentions:

* For a growth in faith, hope and charity in the heart and soul of every human being, and most especially in our own that we may seek only the will of the Father

* For a recognition of the dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death and that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God

* A quick end to the coronavirus pandemic

* For all who are suffering from COVID-19, for their caregivers, and for those who have died from the virus

* In reparation for the sins of abortion, euthanasia, and racism

* In reparation for the sins and failings of our spiritual leaders and for our personal sins

* For healing and justice for all those who have been discriminated against because of their race

* For the conversion of the world and the salvation of souls

* For all those who are persecuted throughout the world for the Faith

* For the conversion of those who carry out acts of desecration against our churches, statues and religious symbols

* In reparation for these acts of desecration, especially against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

* For our civic leaders and those who keep us safe to experience a deeper conversion, to govern justly, and to seek the common good

* That we may learn how to love and forgive from the example of Jesus

* For all marriages and families, neighborhoods, churches and cities to be strengthened

* For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life

Thank you for joining me in this prayer on behalf of our world, country and our Church. I am confident that many of the faithful will respond in turning to the Blessed Mother who “shine[s] on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope” (Pope Francis’ Letter to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020). May you always know the protection of Mary as she leads you to her Son!