Don’t miss out on summer camp at Annunciation Heights

By Topher Aderhold

Topher Aderhold is the Camp Director at Annunciation Heights.

“Every day that passes, I fall more desperately in love with the mountains… I am ever more determined to climb the mountains, to scale the mighty peaks, to feel that pure joy which can only be felt in the mountains.”  – Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

When it comes to commentary on the joy that is found in the mountains, Frassati said it best. Up in the mountains near Estes Park, located a stone’s throw from historic Camp St. Malo, a new Catholic youth and family camp — Annunciation Heights — is making monumental plans for Summer Camp 2019, the inaugural Summer Camp experience for The Heights.

While the calendar reads January, and snow and freezing temps are the norm up here at 9,000 feet, summer is coming, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re creating a place where young people will have the opportunity to leave the busyness of everyday life behind (including their cell phones!). With the guidance of amazing, top-notch young adults, campers will be challenged to grow, to learn, to try new things, and to have loads of fun. Campers, most importantly, will make lasting friendships, and they’ll be encouraged to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

While there are countless amazing activities on property — zip-lining, rock climbing, canoeing, archery, fishing, sports, crafts, etc. — we’ll also be taking our campers off camp. With Rocky Mountain National Park just a two minute drive away, campers will be led by counselors into the wilderness on day hikes and, for some, up to the summits of peaks. Hikes will be age-appropriate — to conquer a mountain, regardless of the elevation, is an accomplishment that campers will cherish.

There is indeed a pure joy that can only be felt in the mountains. Surrounding our property on all sides are peaks of all sizes, with Longs Peak — the famous 14’er — standing the tallest right in our front yard. Added to the stunning views, the joy of the mountains, and the awesome activities we’ll be doing at The Heights, is our shared Catholic faith — it’s Jesus Christ. He is the true Source and Summit.

In mid-January, the Annunciation Heights community welcomed our new chaplain, Fr. Donatian Kaigoma. Fr. Donatian’s presence, and the sacraments he’ll be offering for our campers and staffers every day, will create an atmosphere in which all of us — campers and staffers alike — will grow in our love for Jesus Christ and His Church.

Yes, it’s winter, but summer is coming, and we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome you to the mountain of Annunciation Heights.

We invite you to come be a part of our inaugural Summer Camp experience — an experience your camper will never forget. Summer Camp at Annunciation Heights is being offered for campers entering 4th-12th grade. With only five one-week sessions being offered this first summer, space is limited.

In closing, to once more quote Blessed Pier Giorgio Frasatti, “Verso l’alto!”

To the Heights!

REGISTER NOW FOR SUMMER CAMP 2019

Visit annunciationheights.org.

COMING UP: Seeking justice, transparency and accountability, archdiocese voluntarily enters agreement with Colorado attorney general

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Seeking justice, transparency and accountability, archdiocese voluntarily enters agreement with Colorado attorney general

Initiatives include independent investigation and independent reparations program

Mark Haas

With a desire to “shine the bright light of transparency” on the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors within the Church, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has announced that the three Colorado dioceses have voluntarily partnered with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to conduct an independent review of the dioceses’ files and policies related to the sexual abuse of children.

In a joint news conference on February 19 at the attorney general’s office, it was also announced that the three dioceses will voluntarily fund an independent reparations program for survivors of such abuse.

“The damage inflicted upon young people and their families by sexual abuse, especially when it’s committed by a trusted person like a priest, is profound,” said Archbishop Aquila. “While this process will certainly include painful moments and cannot ever fully restore what was lost, we pray that it will at least begin the healing process.”

It is well known that child sexual abuse is a societal problem that demands attention and action,” said Weiser. “I am pleased the Church has recognized the need for transparency and reparations for victims.”

Discussions for these two initiatives began last year with former Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, and then finalized recently with Weiser. Both Coffman and Weiser praised the dioceses’ willingness to address this issue.

“It is well known that child sexual abuse is a societal problem that demands attention and action,” said Weiser. “I am pleased the Church has recognized the need for transparency and reparations for victims.”

Coffman added: “Childhood sexual abuse is not specific to one institution or to the Catholic Church. The spotlight is on the Catholic Church, but this abuse is indicative of what has happened in other institutions. We want to shine a light on what has happened.

“[The dioceses] demonstrated their commitment to acknowledging past abuse by priests and moving forward with honesty and accountability.”

The independent file review will be handled by Robert Toyer, a former U.S. Attorney for Colorado. His final report is expected to be released in the fall of 2019 and will include a list of diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors, along with a review of the dioceses’ handling of the allegations. The report will also include an evaluation of the dioceses’ current policies and procedures, something that was not included in other states’ reviews, such as the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

“We in Colorado have found our own way in the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report,” said Weiser. “We have a set of dioceses here who came to the table to develop appropriate solutions that are collaborative, committed to transparency and put victims first.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, alongside Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, speaks during a press conference announcing a comprehensive joint agreement with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to conduct an independent review of the dioceses’ files and policies related to the sexual abuse of children at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center on February 19, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Archdiocese of Denver)

“This is not a criminal investigation. This is an independent inquiry with the full cooperation of the Catholic Church,” said Weiser.

Since 1991, the Archdiocese of Denver has had a policy of mandatory reporting of all allegations to local authorities. The procedures were further strengthened by the 2002 Dallas Charter to include comprehensive background checks, zero-tolerance policies, safe environment training, and training for children as well.

“This independent file review presents an opportunity for an honest and fair evaluation of the Church in Colorado’s historical handling of the sexual abuse of minors by priests,” said Archbishop Aquila.  “We are confident in the steps we have taken to address this issue and that there are no priests in active ministry currently under investigation.”

We have a set of dioceses here who came to the table to develop appropriate solutions that are collaborative, committed to transparency and put victims first.”

The independent reparations program will be run by two nationally recognized claims administration experts, Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, who will review individual cases and make financial awards to victims who elect to participate. The victims are free to accept or reject the award, but the Colorado dioceses are bound by what the administrators decide.

The program will have oversight provided by an independent committee chaired by former U.S. Senator Hank Brown. More details will be announced in the coming months, and the program will officially open closer to the release of the final report.

This is similar to a program instituted by former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in 2006. Archbishop Aquila said it is important for local Catholics to know the program will be funded by archdiocesan reserves, with no money being taken from ministries or charities at parishes, annual diocesan appeals, or Catholic Charities.

“With humility and repentance, we hope the programs announced today offer a path to healing for survivors and their families,” Archbishop Aquila said.

And acknowledging how painful this has been for everyone in the Church, Archbishop Aquila said he hopes this is step towards restoring confidence among the faithful.

“Helping people to restore their trust, to live their faith, that is essential,” said Archbishop Aquila. “And to help them have a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, so that is my goal in all of this. I know that healing is possible in Jesus Christ.”

For a copy of the full agreement and a detailed FAQ, visit archden.org/promise.