Charities to establish permanent shelter for women

To serve one of the most vulnerable populations in the Denver metro area, homeless single women, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver will open the city’s first long-term emergency center for women this month.

Homeless women make up 45 percent of the Denver’s homeless population comprised of 11,377 men, women and children, according to a policy brief by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in 2012.

“The United States has the largest number of homeless women among industrialized nations,” according to the brief, “and the highest number on record since the Great Depression.”

The shelter will open within an area of Charities’ existing Samaritan House—a shelter at 2301 Lawrence St. that serves 3,500 men, women and children each year. It will have capacity for 100 women and will be called Holy Rosary at Samaritan House. The permanent shelter will replace a temporary one established over the winter at Holy Rosary Church at 4688 Pearl St. in the Globeville neighborhood, near the Interstates 25 and 70 interchange.

“The zoning code around the current temporary shelter didn’t allow for a permanent shelter so we needed to find a new place by April 15,” said Geoff Bennett, vice president of shelter and community outreach services for Catholic Charities. “So we moved fast into finding a solution to shelter the women.”

The temporary shelter will close this spring. To provide the new shelter, Charities entered into an agreement with The Salvation Army to extend the Samaritan House men’s emergency overflow into The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Center. The Crossroads Center, located at 1901 29th St., is less than a mile from Samaritan House. It can accommodate up to 100 men per night.

“The Samaritan House emergency overflow program is not ending,” Bennett explained, “but instead is being continued at Crossroads Center. All the conveniences and amenities offered at Samaritan House to the men will be extended at Crossroads.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will also absorb the Salvation Army’s Red Shield program which currently houses 30 women.

“We are very excited to be working with The Salvation Army to continue our men’s shelter services,” Bennett said, “while opening a long-term emergency overnight shelter for women.”

Samaritan House is unique, he added, in that it is able to accommodate women, men and families under one roof.

“That is not the case for the majority of the other shelters that mostly take men only,” he said.

Each year, Samaritan House provides 118,000 nights of shelter and serves 240,000 warm meals. It is one of Charities’ four shelters in the archdiocese—along with Father Ed Judy House in Denver, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins—providing “love, safety, shelter, clothing, food and supportive services to help restore dignity, regain lost hope, and reclaim ownership of their lives and reintegrate into the community.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will open April 15.

COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.