Denver bishops: mass shootings a “cancer” on society

Remind faithful of duty to love one another, pray for victims

Karna Lozoya

The bishops of the Archdiocese of Denver are calling the rash of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in recent years a “cancer” on society.

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez wrote this in a statement released the morning after a lone gunman entered a Walmart in Thornton, Colorado, on Nov. 1, and opened fire on those around him. He killed three people, and then fled.

“These acts of random violence are a growing cancer on our society,” the bishops wrote in the statement, “which reflect how little our culture values and upholds the dignity of human life.”

The bishops remind the faithful of the duty to “love one another,” and to “treat one another with civility, dignity and respect.” And they invite all to join them in prayer for the victims and their families.

The full statement is below:

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On Wednesday night in Thornton, a lone shooter reportedly walked into a Walmart around 6 p.m. and “nonchalantly” opened fire on those around him.

He then fled the scene, after having killed three people—two men and a woman. No other injuries have been reported.

Here in Colorado we witnessed in 1999 one of the first and more atrocious mass shootings in recent memory at Columbine High School. Then in 2012 we witnessed the Aurora shooting at the Century 16 movie theater. In the past few years, too many similar incidents have taken place. These acts of random violence are a growing cancer on our society, which reflect how little our culture values and upholds the dignity of human life.

There is something deeply wrong with a society where senseless acts of violence continue to repeat themselves over and over, with increased randomness and less constraint.

In the wake of such a display of pure evil, one can feel powerless. But we must remember that we all have the ability and the duty to instill Christian love into our culture. These acts call for each one of us to reflect in our hearts how we love one another, and how we are called to treat one another with civility, dignity and respect.

Let us all pray today for the victims and their families, and for the community of Thornton. May they experience the comfort and peace that only Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can give.

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L.
Archbishop of Denver

Most Rev. Jorge H. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver


Photo caption: Police cars parked in front of the Walmart at 9901 Grant St, Thornton, CO, the morning after a lone gunman entered the shopping center and killed three people. Photo by Jason Weinrich/Denver Catholic

COMING UP: School scholarships continue legacies, support Catholic education

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With school back in session, Catholic schools are beginning to grant scholarships and provide tuition assistance for well-deserved students enrolled in the upcoming school year.

St. Vincent de Paul School is just one example. In the spring, staff and parents from the Denver Catholic school will select fourth graders going into fifth grade who will receive the McKaila Steffes Scholarship Fund, established by Montgomery and Andrea Sykora through The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado.

The memory of the spirited and loving young McKaila, who bravely fought a neurological condition that caused tumors, lives on in the scholarship fund that gives young students tuition assistance.

“I remember McKaila when she was here,” said Suzanne Meyer of St. Vincent de Paul. “She was just so full of life — she touched everyone’s lives. She passed away when she was nine (in 2006). This scholarship is a nice memorial for McKaila.”

Donations to the scholarship fund greatly help current students, Meyer said, who exemplify the same great qualities as McKaila.

Jean Finegan, Gift Planning Officer for The Catholic Foundation, said anyone may give to the scholarship funds held at the Foundation either through a current gift or planned gift.  This allows for these funds to grow and continue providing tuition assistance for generations to come.

Assistance is offered for hard-working families in need at other schools, including St. Catherine of Siena School. The Elizabeth C. Giordano Garden of Hope Scholarship Fund was established by Gwen and Andrew Pomper to help children obtain an education grounded in the Catholic faith.  Giordano was an immigration attorney and active fundraiser for the parish and school before she passed away in 2013. The scholarship fund continues to honor and remember her and her contributions to the community by making a Catholic education more accessible for families.

The Catholic Foundation also holds scholarship funds for families sending their children to Bishop Machebeuf High School. The late Elinor Travis had faith that students at the school could achieve their dreams. She aimed to help them get there by establishing an endowment fund to provide tuition assistance. She named the William and Vicki Lynn Ingram Endowment Fund Memorial Scholarship in memory of her daughter, who attended Machebeuf, specifically to help the 65 percent of students from low-income families in need of financial aid.

“Elinor always valued education,” said her friend, Pat Brewster. “I think she had a passion for people and passion for life, and she was very generous with her money.”

Also benefiting Machebeuf students is the Sister Rosemary Wilcox Scholarship fund, named after the Sister of Loretto, founding principal of the school and later chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver. She passed away in 2012. Continued support for students can also be made through the Bishop Machebeuf High School Student Scholarship and Financial Aid Endowment Scholarship.

High school students at Holy Family may also be aided by the school scholarship fund designed for tuition assistance at the Broomfield school. The Catholic Foundation accepts donations to this fund, established by Deacon Jim and Karen Doyle, to help students in need of tuition assistance.

Catholic education can also be supported through the Don and Meredith Jung Scholarship Fund, established by Don Jung in memory of his late wife. Jung is an active member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lafayette and offers the scholarship for students who are parishioners at the church and interested in attending a trade school.

The Annunciation School community won’t forget Sister Jean Panisko, S.C.L., who served as principal for 29 years at the school before retiring in 2010. Martha Diss Sundby started the fund in honor of sister in order to provide tuition assistance to families at Annunciation Elementary School.

Scholarship funds that further Catholic education held at The Catholic Foundation:

  • Bishop Machebeuf High School Student Scholarship and Financial Aid Endowment Scholarship -Elizabeth C. Giordano Garden of Hope Scholarship Fund – St. Catherine of Siena School
  • Holy Family High School Scholarship Fund
  • Don and Meredith Jung Scholarship Fund – Immaculate Conception Parish
  • McKaila Steffes Scholarship Fund – St. Vincent de Paul School
  • Saint Clare Christian Education Endowment Fund
  • Sister Jean Panisko S.C.L. Fund – Annunciation School
  • Sister Rosemary Wilcox Scholarship Fund – Bishop Machebeuf High School
  • William and Vicki Lynn Ingram Memorial Scholarship – Bishop Machebeuf High School
  • St. Joseph Scholarship Fund – Supporting the high schools within the Archdiocese of Denver
  • Elmer Von Feldt Scholarship Fund – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

To make a donation to the Foundation in further support of Catholic education for young students in need, contact Jean Finegan at (303) 867-0613 or