Honoring God and giving to others

Larry Smith

Our lives should be oriented to the things that are most important. And the thing that is most important, that is guaranteed to make you happy, is to give of yourself.

We forget about that. Because most of the marketing in the entire world is designed around getting you to buy things. But what’s the most important gift you can give to someone else? Is it a bauble, a jewel or a watch? It is love, unencumbered love. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all searching for: God who is love. That’s why St. Augustine wrote, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”

When you fulfill the needs of others, you fulfill your own needs without realizing it. That’s what Jesus Christ, who brought salvation, directs us to do. When a scribe tried to trap him, his answer was: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Yes, you are supposed to love yourself. And then you’re supposed to love your neighbor that way. How does the other person feel loved and receive healing? We get stuck on the “loving ourselves” part and forget to go out and love our neighbor.

Here’s an example. There’s a husband and wife at a particular parish. They have their own family. And they have a parish family. They send out emails about voting issues, about feast days and holidays, about special deals they see and also news articles to help people see the world from an altruistic perspective. This couple also helps with diaper drives and food drives. They don’t give up their whole life. But their whole life is about giving.

If we go to the source — God’s love — we’ll have plenty of love to give to everyone else. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of loving your neighbor as yourself. On January 1, we shouldn’t go back to: me, me, me. If we would just stop and reflect on how it was when we were serving others, we’d stay focused on that year-round.

The beauty you get from giving isn’t in the recognition you may get. It’s in knowing that you gave. And if you keep your eyes open and really pay attention to what God is saying, you’ll get recognition in ways you can’t even imagine. It’s not always in the ways you expect. It will be in the ways that God wants to give to you. And it will be amazing!

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online
at ccdenver.org or call 303-742- 0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

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 jfinegan@thecatholicfoundation.com.