Denver gives to military archdiocese

The Denver Archdiocese gave one of the largest donations in the nation to the first-ever collection to support the spiritual needs of the armed forces.

Denver faithful gave $20,944 to the Collection for the Archdiocese for Military Services in January to help bring the sacraments, Catholic education and priest chaplains to more than 1.8 million military families and to veterans.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of Military Services wrote to Archbishop Samuel Aquila saying the support is needed now more than ever because of fiscal restraints on military chapel programs.

“With no military or government financial assistance, this archdiocese must rely wholly on the generosity of the Catholic community to operate her many programs and services,” he wrote. “Your support shows service members and their families that their faith need not be part of the sacrifice they make in service to our country.”

The collection was an initiative of bishops in Colorado—including then-Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput—to support families undergoing hardships from years of war overseas.

“They rely on our Catholic chaplains for spiritual guidance and support,” Archbishop Broglio stated about the collection. “The (military archdiocese) must pay all the considerable travel costs for its bishops and clergy staff to visit military installations around the world.”

The U.S. bishops approved the collection at parishes nationwide on Nov. 9-10. The collection will be taken once every three years.

The military archdiocese—created in 1985 by Blessed Pope John Paul II—is the only arm of the Church responsible for supplying priests as chaplains in all branches of the military and patients in veteran’s medical centers.

This amounts to 1.8 million American Catholics served by 1,105 military-endorsed priests across 220 military bases in 29 countries and 153 VA centers, according to the archdiocese.

With the help of these priests, military Catholics will have access to the Mass, spiritual direction and Catholic education no matter their location.

The archdiocese is also reliant on the collection to help fund the formation of seminarians wanting to relieve the military chaplain shortage. The shortage occurred as aging priests reached the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced, according to the archdiocese.

Over the past 12 years, priests on active duty fell 40 percent—from 400 in 2001 to 234 today, the military archdiocese reports.

With the help of the collection, the military archdiocese said it will have greater opportunity to fulfill its mission “serving those who serve.”

“I think caring for military personnel is a concern of most American Catholics and I am confident that they will be generous.” Archbishop Broglio said.

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.