Chancery support empowers parishes to focus on ministry and evangelization

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

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: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”