Honoring our Catholic educators for their years of service

“The Church needs men and women who are intent on teaching by word and example – intent on helping to permeate the whole educational milieu with the spirit of Christ. This is a great vocation, and the Lord himself will reward all who serve in it as educators in the cause of the word of God.” – Message of John Paul II to the National Catholic Educational Association of the United States, April 16, 1979  

To Our Faith-Filled Educators,  

To our Faithful Catholic Educators, The Church is deeply grateful for your commitment to our Catholic educational mission, our students and your good and faithful service to our Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Denver. By answering the Lord’s call to teach in a Catholic school, you have said yes to more than just teaching; you have said yes to being part of a movement that exists to provide an integral human formation that will enable our young men and women to come to know love and serve God, and grow in wisdom and virtue, that they might be truly free and fully alive because they have come to know the truth about who they were created to be and for what they were created for as sons and daughters of God. Know how deeply grateful we are for your commitment to this vital ministry of the Church of Northern Colorado. 

This is a listing of the teachers and staff members of our Catholic schools here in the Archdiocese of Denver who are celebrating milestone anniversaries. Congratulations to you all.

Superintendent Elias J. Moo 
Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools 

40 Years of Service 

Sister Regina Drey

Sister Regina Drey
St. Mary’s Academy 

35 Years of Service 

Steve Mayfield
St. Mary’s Academy 

Carol Tufano
St. Pius X Catholic School  

30 Years of Service 

Mary Beth Maes 

Kevin Harder  
Notre Dame  

Debbie DiPetrillo  
St. Louis 

Jane Hoogerwerf  
Bill Kummer  
St. Mary’s Academy  

25 Years of Service 

Jim Stevens

Jim Stevens  
Our Lady of Fatima 

Jenny Rodriguez  
Guardian Angels 

Lorraine Capra  
Ricci Fast  
Mullen High School 

Bryan Timme  
Regis Jesuit High School  

Cheryl Brown  
St. John the Evangelist 

Joanna Keiss  
St. Joseph 

Theresa Lorenzo  
St. Mary’s Academy  

20 Years of Service 

DJ Flakes

DJ Flakes  
Joanne Augustine
Arrupe Jesuit High School 

Michael D. Gabriel  
Sam Roskopf  
Francine Saulino  
William Wilson  
Holy Family High School 

Barbara Flesher  
Lynne Vuletich  
Nativity: Faith & Reason 

Merle McKittrick  
Dina McNulty  
Notre Dame 

Bryan Bruno  
John Ferraro  
Heidi Kabadi  
Bill Kehrman  
Christina Vela  
Regis Jesuit High School  

Mary Wellems  
St. Louis 

Celia Bard  
Andrew Beckham  
Kristen Ferguson 
Michael Pattison  
Peter Sniegowski  
St. Mary’s Academy 

Kathryn Lockwood  
St. Therese 

Debbie Greenwood  
St. Thomas More  

15 Years of Service 

Katherine Kelly

Katherine Kelly  
St. Rose of Lima 

Sandy Howard 

Jung Noelle  
Blessed Sacrament 

Mariella Robledo  
Escuela de Guadalupe 

Marcella Montoya  
Paula Stewart 
Beth Walker  
Good Shepherd 

Trudy Acosta  
Rebecca Barger  
Delmar Bishop  
Holy Family High School 

Karen Majewski  
Elizabeth Wright  
Mullen High School 

Stephanie Chaney  
Michelle Rodriguez  
Our Lady of Fatima 

Alison Blanc  
Catherine Cole  
Will Cropper   
John Johnson   
Jon Powell   
Peter Reiser   
Sarah Sherwood   
Judy Weaver   
Dan Woodley   
Alicia Ziegler  
Regis Jesuit High School  

Kathy Dubois  
Sacred Heart of Jesus 

Joan Farus  
Shrine of St. Anne 

Amanda Painter 
St. Clare of Assisi 

Marianne Baugh  
Julie Rossi 
St. John the Evangelist 

Karen Gogela  
Lydia Olsen  
St. Joseph 

Lisa Roybal  
Lori Welty  
St. Louis 

Rick Nelson 
Jamie Sniegowski  
Amber Summers  
St. Mary’s Academy 

Paul Buchholz  
Cindi Marchese  
St. Pius X Catholic School 

Laura Carter  
St. Stephen 

Paulette Duran  
Mira Habina  
Anita Ryan  
St. Thomas More 

Ellen Kail  
Wellspring Catholic Academy 

10 Years of Service 

Joey Wells

Joey Wells   
Bl. Miguel Pro 

Pat Nelson  
Bishop Machebeuf High School 

Catherine Winters  
Frassati Catholic Academy

Michelle Cisneros  
Tara McDonald  
Good Shepherd 

Jennifer Bowie  
Guardian Angels 

Vicki Burke  
Dennis Eichner  
Mitchell Martinez  
Holy Family High School 

Heidi Capek  
Leah Leddin  
Jihad-Joey Mahmood 
Amanda Sherpe  
Mullen High School 

Michele Meyer  
Our Lady of Fatima 

Morgan McGinn  
Tamara Whitehouse  
Our Lady of Lourdes 

Dana Bauer   
Ginger Brown   
Candace Busselmaier  
Tina Janelle   
Katherine Mihalco  
Paul Miller   
Tom Rochford, SJ   
Tim Sauer   
Celeste Siade   
Cameron Turner  
Regis Jesuit High School  

Tina Harwood  
Jessica Schwarte  
Shrine of St. Anne 

Samantha Mizwicki
St. Clare of Assisi  

Anne Marie Romansky  
St. James  

Mary Robertson   
St. John the Baptist 

Dierdre Workman  
St. Joseph 

Andrea White  
St. Louis 

Pamela Applegate  
Anne Evans  
Ana Fonseca  
Kathy Rosborough  
St. Mary’s Academy 

DeAnn Aquino  
St. Pius X  

Debbie Cook  
St. Stephen  

Kira Weiland  
Brooke Wolf  
St. Thomas More Catholic 

Deshaunne Kurulak  
St. Vincent de Paul  

5 Years of Service 

Mark Ladd 
Nancy Padron  
Sylvette Rivera  
John Volpe  
Arrupe Jesuit High School 

James (AJ) Angel  
Bishop Machebeuf High School 

Rebecca Behrendt 
Nancy Clark  
Melissa English 
Emily Hooper  
Alision Lashley  
Bridget Leavens  
Karen Zimmerman 
Blessed Sacrament 

JoAnn Gartland  
Rebecca Kopperud  
Christ the King 

Shelley Archuleta  
Michelle Galuszka  
Sandra Garcia  
Ioanna Georgescu  
Ines Polanco  
Escuela de Guadalupe 

David Burns  
Victor Magdeleno  
Mary Pishney  
Joseph Todisco  
Good Shepherd 

Lisa Doroff  
Father Joseph McLagan  
David Springer  
Holy Family High School 

Elizabeth Ferderer  
Heather Giles  
Chelsea Perri 
Anne Schwieterman  
Most Precious Blood 

Thomas Brotherson  
Heather Davis  
Doeung Dong  
Britt Gusmus  
Pamela Paulus  
Ila Rosengarten  
Wivina Vigil  
Mullen High School 

Kristen Cunningham  
Notre Dame Catholic School 

Laura Riviello  
Taylor Sandusky  
Our Lady of Fatima 
Elizabeth Bigelow  
Our Lady of Lourdes 

Laura Hall  
Sebastian Kurtz  
Jian Lin  
Maria Lynch  
Anthony Mattacchione  
Kelli Mattacchione  
Eric Ramirez, SJ  
Kristin Repaci  
Sandy Robertson  
Trina Sandler  
Imtiaz Stephen  
Regis Jesuit High School  

Elizabeth Crisofulli  
Vicky Gonzales  
Rima Khoukaz  
Elizabeth Sweeney  
Sacred Heart of Jesus 

Roxie Carreon  
Gina Demarest  
Sister Mary Elisha Glady  
St. Clare of Assisi  

Danielle Byrne  
St. John the Baptist 

Brianna Mundhenke  
Pam Weber  
St. John the Evangelist 

Nick Blanco  
Jennifer Lodato  
Carrie Sheffield  
St. Joseph 

Kathryn Demchak  
Teresa Gomez  
Mary Haas  
Susan Marcoux  
Aimee Nytes  
St. Mary, Littleton 

Christine Boss  
Casey Harnar  
Michelle Irwin  
Jason Jung  
Kelli Logan  
Bridget Romano  
Amy Von Canon 
St. Mary’s Academy 

Jackie Morales  
St. Pius X  

Adam Archuleta  
Cristel Sotelo  
Veronica Viezca  
St. Rose of Lima 

Christine McSwain  
St. Stephen 

Charles Childs  
St. Therese 

Liz Gray  
Jill Guerrero  
St. Thomas More 

Sr. Dominic Quinn, O.P.  
St. Vincent de Paul 

Monique Garcia  
Katherine Shute 
Sts. Peter and Paul 

Lida Bazan  
Karina Campa  
Wellspring Catholic Academy 

COMING UP: Sin, suicide and the perfect mercy of God

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I love my hair stylist. 

She’s a devoted Christian. So, when I see her, we tend to have much deeper discussions than the usual gossipy hair stylist sessions. And, because it’s a small shop, the discussions often branch out to the other people within earshot, waiting for their appointments or waiting for their color to process. Because she tends to attract a smart and faithful clientele, the discussion is always interesting. 

Yesterday, at my bimonthly appointment, we somehow got onto the topic of suicide — specifically, the insidious way that it spreads among teenagers. One suicide often leads to another, which leads to another. I made the comment “It is demonic.” 

At that point, a woman in the waiting area chimed in. “I disagree. I’m Catholic. It used to be a mortal sin, but they changed it. It’s not any more. It’s mental illness.” 

If a nice Catholic lady at my hair salon could be confused about this, I figured perhaps some of you out there may be as well. Which made me think perhaps it’s time for a little review on the nature of sin — both in general, and specifically as it applies to suicide. 

First, sin in general. The fundamental point here is that the Catholic Church has no power to decide what is a sin and what isn’t. It’s not like there’s a committee that meets periodically to review the list of sins, and decide if any need to be promoted from venial to mortal, or demoted from mortal to venial, or dropped from the list entirely. 

Sins are sins because they are outside of God’s will. And they are outside of God’s will because they have the potential to do tremendous damage to people created in His image and likeness, whom He loves. We know they are sins because it was revealed to us in Scripture, or it has been handed down from the time of Christ in sacred tradition. Sometimes the Church must apply these timeless, God-given principles to new situations, to determine the morality of technologies undreamt of in ancient times. 

The Church has the authority to do that because she received it from Christ, her bridegroom. And once she does declare on a subject, we believe it is done through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So the Church isn’t going to change her mind. Something can’t be a sin, and then suddenly NOT be a sin. 

“But,” you ask. “What about eating meat on Friday? That was a sin, and now it isn’t.” This is an example of a discipline of the Church. Eating meat has never, in itself, been an objectively sinful behavior — on Fridays or any other day. But the Church was calling us, as Jesus calls us, to do penance. And the Church selected that penance as something we could all, as a Church, do together. The sin was never in the ingestion of the meat. It was in disobeying the Church in this matter. This particular discipline has been dropped. But it doesn’t change our obligation to in some way do penance for our sins and the sins of the world. 

Now, on to suicide. It is obvious that something must have changed in the teachings of the Church. Because, in the olden days, a person who committed suicide couldn’t be buried with a Catholic funeral Mass. And now they can. So what gives? 

Here’s the situation. Taking innocent human life is always a grave evil. (I add the “innocent” qualifier to distinguish this discussion from one about self defense, or about the death penalty — which in a sense is self defense. But those are separate discussions.) God is the author of life, and it is He who decides when our lives will end. To usurp that power always has been, and always will be, a grave moral evil. 

But there is an important distinction we must understand. There is the objective gravity of the sin — the nature of it, and the great damage done by it. Then there is the question of the individual’s moral culpability of that sin. In other words: a great evil was done. But is the person who did it liable to judgment for it? Or were there extenuating circumstances that mean that, while the evil was indeed done, the person who did it was somehow functioning in a diminished capacity that reduces or eliminates their moral responsibility? 

For a person to be culpable for a mortal sin, three conditions must be met. First, the objective act must be gravely sinful. Second and third, the person committing the sin must do so with full knowledge of the sinfulness of the act, and full consent of the will. In the question of suicide, we have learned to much about the psychological condition of a person driven to such a horrible deed. The instinct to self preservation is strong. In order to overcome it, the mental and/or physical suffering is frequently very intense. There may even be, as my friend at the salon mentioned, mental illness involved. All of this can drastically reduce a person’s mental and intellectual capacity to make rational decisions. 

And so, while an objectively horrifying act has occurred, God may very well have tremendous mercy on that person’s soul, given the extreme states of agitation and pain that led up to the act. 

Know that I write all of this as someone who has lost one beloved relative and several friends to suicide. And I am tremendously optimistic in my hope that they are with God. Not because they didn’t do something terrible, or that what they did was somehow justified. But because the God who loves them sees their hearts, and knows that pain and suffering can drive people to acts they wouldn’t possibly consider while in their “right” minds. 

And this is why the Church offers the Rite of Christian Burial to those who die by suicide. Because they need the prayers. And their families need the comfort. And because the Church, too, believes in that the God who embodies perfect justice also embodies perfect mercy. 

And we live in great hope that they are with Him.