Fallen away veterans invited back to Church

Sept. 28 Mass and program to be hosted by deacons, Knights at Colorado Freedom Memorial

The names of 6,200 Coloradans killed or missing in action are listed on the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora. For the first time since the memorial was dedicated in 2013, the site will be blessed during an outdoor Mass for veterans, their families and friends Sept. 28. Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez will be the main celebrant of the Mass, which will be concelebrated by other priests of the archdiocese. Deacons will assist.

Click here for the event page.

The event starts at 10:30 a.m. with a short program that includes a performance by the Air Force Academy Cadet Choir and inspiring talks by retired Air Force Gen. Mike Duggan and retired Air Force Sgt. Bill Lancaster. The Knights of Columbus will serve a complimentary lunch after the Mass and tours will be conducted. Master of ceremonies will be Rick Crandall, KEZW-AM morning show host and founder and president of the Colorado Freedom Memorial.

The Mass and program was organized by the deacons of the Archdiocese of Denver to express gratitude to veterans and to help those who may have fallen away from their faith to reconnect with the Church, said Deacon Dave Thompson, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

“At the end of that war, veterans were seriously disrespected. It was embarrassing and shameful,” he said. “A lot of veterans have had that experience after other wars since then.”

While the trauma of war can result in deeper faith for some veterans, in others it can lead to loss of faith and/or diminished participation in religious activities, reports the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD.

“I’ve interviewed thousands of veterans over the years. Many of them talk about falling away from their faith because of things they had to see and do in war,” Crandall said. “They think: I’ve done something out of necessity that God is not going to be happy with.

“There’s a bridge that needs to be crossed to bring them back [to God],” added Crandall, who is a convert to Catholicism. “That was the whole idea for this event.”
Mount Tabor Counseling, which offers therapy from a Catholic perspective, will have counselors and contact information available for veterans who may want to speak with one at the event or in the future, Deacon Thompson said.

“We want them to know that if they are suffering, healing is possible through God and the Church,” he said.
Attendees are urged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. Some seating will be available for those with disabilities, the organizers said.

The organizers said they have no idea how many people will attend the liturgy and luncheon. It is open to both Catholics and non-Catholics.

“It will be a beautiful celebration,” Crandall said. “We’re trying to make it a wonderful sense of community. Who knows, it could be the first of an annual event to help veterans.”

Outdoor Mass & Program for Veterans

Sept. 28, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Pre-event music starting at 10:30 a.m.
Mass & Program from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Colorado Freedom Memorial,
756 Telluride St., Aurora, CO 80011
Questions? Call 303-715-3198

Featured image courtesy of Colorado Freedom Memorial Facebook page

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash