Feeling spiritually discouraged? This workshop may help

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The Lanteri Center will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a special workshop that could change the course of your life through deeper growth and personal restoration with God.

The Lanteri Center will host the “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement” seminar Oct. 26-27, which will focus on the life and ministry of Venerable Bruno Lanteri, founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who lived his spiritual life based on the infinite mercy of God.

The seminar director will be Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., who has dedicated many years to an extensive ministry of retreats, spiritual direction and teachings about the spiritual life.

“This seminar is intended for those who wish to engage in an atmosphere of fraternity and evangelical simplicity for a time of study, prayer, and social interaction, learning how to integrate Christian spirituality with their engagement with the world,” Father Greg Cleveland, Director of the Lanteri Center told, the Denver Catholic.

Lanteri preached and wrote about the infinite mercy of the Father manifested in Jesus Christ during difficult times when there was disturbance both in the Church and world. But more than that, he lived it in his everyday life, and taught the Oblates to do the same. Through reconciliation and spiritual direction, he connected with people along their personal journey to knowing God’s mercy. His writings offer hope and spiritual encouragement.

The Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, located in Denver, was founded in 2004 by Father Ernest Sherstone and Father Dan Barron, both Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

“We offer spiritual direction to people throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and beyond, as well…We offer that service to people looking for that one-on-one guidance, helping deepen their relationship with The Lord. We also train people to become spiritual directors.”

The Lanteri Center is a place that fosters growth in holiness through the ministry of spiritual direction and prayerful reflection upon God’s Word in a welcoming and friendly environment. Spiritual direction is help given by one Christian to another, which enables that person to listen and respond to God and grow in intimacy with him.

“Engaging in spiritual direction allows the Holy Spirit direct you by moving you deeply and leading you to a closer union with God,” Father Cleveland said.

For more information on the Lanteri Center, visit www.omvusa.org/lanteri-center.

Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement
Oct. 26-27, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Holy Ghost Parish
1900 California St., Denver
$25 each day, lunch provided.

COMING UP: Working to make our schools safer

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By Carol Nesbitt

The issue of school safety is always on the minds of parents. Parents want to know that schools have a plan in place for all types of emergencies, from fires to intruders to staff or students feeling unsafe for various reasons.
The Archdiocese of Denver is excited to share that they now have someone directly supporting the safety preparedness and plans of the 37 Catholic schools under its watch and care.

Matt Montgomery is a former police officer and award-winning school resource officer (SRO). He’s also a chemistry and forensic science teacher as well as Director of Security and Safety at Holy Family High School. And, as of Nov. 13, he is the new Interim Director of Schools Security and Safety for the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools. The position is new and the first of its kind for the Archdiocese of Denver, but important.

“As a Catholic school community we believe the safety and wellbeing of our students comes first. Time and again we hear our parents rate school safety as one of the top reasons why they entrust the care and formation of their children to our schools. As such, we believe we have a duty and moral obligation in our schools to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure our children are safe from any type of harm,” said Elias Moo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Historically, each of our schools has had to take on the crucial task of defining and implementing their own safety and security plans and systems. While our schools have certainly gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of their school community, we believe it is critical in our current reality that we provide our schools with the expertise and qualifications of someone like Matt to support them in really analyzing their plans and assisting them in ensuring best practices are being implemented. It’s the least we can do for our school communities.”

“My role is really to lead a task force with the intention of identifying needs around school safety,” said Montgomery. He says there are a number of great models for school safety around the area, so it’s more about bringing it all together. “All public schools have someone overseeing safety and security, usually with staff members doing threat assessments, suicide assessments and emergency drills, building security, fire drills, and those kinds of things, but there really isn’t a position like this in other dioceses that we are aware of.”

Montgomery says that his job will be taking the variety of practices at schools and helping to bring consistency in efforts across the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic School community. He also says that the term ‘school safety’ is more broad than people realize. “When people think about school safety, they always gravitate to school shootings, but I think we really have to step away from that and realize that school safety and security is an umbrella. It encompasses everything from events prior to an incident all the way through recovery (post-incident).”

The five areas Montgomery is focusing on include:

Prevention
What do we do to create a loving and responsive Catholic community where students and staff feel safe and are empowered and given resources to report any behaviors or activity that is unsafe and counter to our values?

Protection
What systems and proceses do we have to vigilantly monitor for behavior or activity that is harmful to our Catholic community?

Mitigation
What procedures and policies are in place to mitigate issues?

Response
If an incident occurs, how do we respond to that incident? How do we support that school from an archdiocesan perspective? What tools are we able to provide to that school? What relationships do we have with law enforcement and first responders in that community?

Recovery
Recovery begins the second an incident occurs. How do we reunite students with families, provide counseling support and address staff issues in the case of a crisis?

Montgomery says his work will also help establish a plan for the archdiocese in the case of a larger emergency.

“What is our incident command structure going to look like so that we can respond to an incident, while also keeping in mind the unique structure of the various schools beneath the Office of Catholic Schools?”

He’d like to see the Standard Response Protocol — created by the I Love You Guys Foundation — used throughout the school system.

“One of the issues I noticed is that there are a lot of different agencies who respond to various incidents and they don’t know what the other ones are doing,” Montgomery said. “The crisis plan needs to be uniform, created for a specific age group. We need to standardize our crisis plans throughout the AoD and work with the schools to create private plans for each school that is specific to that school, simple plans that outline for administration on how they implement the plan at the moment of crisis.”

One of the biggest things Montgomery will be doing is identifying policies and procedures and training. “This is uniformly saying ‘This is what we’re doing, this is how we’re going to do it, and these are the amount of times we will practice it each year.’” This also includes training of staff on mandatory reporting, the importance of documenting things, and threat assessments that ask the right questions to get a non-biased, vetted approach to assessing threats. “There are a lot of things we can do to mitigate the chance of someone being hurt at a school. That’s by good training, good policies and procedures, and hardening our targets, meaning the physical security of our school buildings,” said Montgomery.

As a teacher, Montgomery says he has a unique perspective. “I’m not just some cop or just an SRO. My heart is in the classroom. I’m a Catholic educator who used to be a cop. My goal is to make sure kids can focus on being a kid and learning, not having to worry about being hurt at school or being bullied or having thoughts of suicide. I want them to feel that school is a safe place. That’s why I do it. I really love doing school safety.”