If you desire to change your life, start with how you give

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By Todd Smith

We offer gifts to commemorate various milestones and personal achievements in the lives of others. Birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations immediately come to mind. Beyond recognition of special events, we also offer gifts to someone who has performed a special kindness or has given us something.

As the end of the year draws near, we instinctively reflect upon the many blessings we have received and consider ways of expressing our gratitude. Of all the gifts we have received, what gift can compare to the Catholic faith we share? The spiritual rewards of this gift will extend beyond our earthly lives and into life eternal. Yet, how do we express our gratitude for the gift of faith?

Mike and Tricia Jansen, parishioners of Our Lady of the Valley in Windsor, recently shared their experiences, joys, and confidence when partnering with The Catholic Foundation. More than 20 years ago, their pastor instilled in them the true meaning and purpose of tithing — stretching beyond what they felt was possible — knowing that when someone gives, God gives back tenfold.

“The Catholic Foundation provides an opportunity through which God’s gifts to us can be channeled where needs exist in the Church today,” the Jansens said. “We are comforted, knowing that our donation will be morally and responsibly invested in conformity with the teachings of the Church.”

The fact that The Catholic Foundation and its assets are a separate legal entity comforts the Jansens, who know their gifts will be safeguarded until the time when they decide to direct them to a needy ministry, parish, or apostolate of their choosing. In addition to potential year-end tax advantages, the Foundation also offers donors the option of contributing before the year’s end and deferring where they would like their donation distributed until next year via a donor advised fund.

“The Foundation team is accommodating, extremely knowledgeable, and eager to grow the faith,” the Jansens said. “Because of their commitment and mutual desire to spread God’s kingdom, we’re grateful to partner with such an amazing organization. They can assist with charitable planning, including investments, such as IRA rollovers, real estate, stocks, or bonds.

“The Catholic Foundation is not meant to be something you just leave in your will, but something you should start early — like a Catholic savings account — knowing you can distribute the assets from your account at any time to advance a specific Catholic ministry, parish or outreach service.”

The act of giving is a tangible and meaningful expression of our gratitude to others and in recognition of others’ achievements. Giving to and through The Catholic Foundation, however, expresses our gratitude for the gift of faith by passing it on to others for years to come, perhaps beyond our lifetimes. That’s what makes the Foundation unique and a blessing to the faithful of the archdiocese. As the Jansens reminded, “We are on this earth only a short time. The Catholic Foundation provides the opportunity to impact our Church, our faith, and our world for many years after our passing.”

Giving to future generations begins with a phone call. To learn more about Catholic-conscious investment opportunities that will give beyond your lifetime, contact The Catholic Foundation at 303.468.9885 or visit them at thecatholicfoundation.com.

COMING UP: Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

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Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

Livestreamed Masses, drive-through confession and more are sustaining the faithful during quarantine

Aaron Lambert

Nothing like creativity and some humor to make a tough situation a little easier to endure.

“It took generations, but they have succeeded where the rest of us have failed. Children, of all ages throughout the world, have successfully given up school for Lent,” St. John the Baptist Parish in Longmont posted on its Facebook page April 1. Quite a few “Haha” reactions ensued.

The post, of course, refers to the fact that because of the coronavirus pandemic, students are not attending classes in-person and are instead learning from home. This homebound engagement is true for pretty much every other public institution, including Catholic churches. Parishes across the Archdiocese of Denver are having to adapt to a temporary reality where Masses are empty.

Thankfully, that aforementioned creativity, strong communities and a little help from the internet are making it possible for parishes to still serve the faithful in plenty of ways. For many parishes, this means something as simple as livestreaming Masses for the faithful to participate in from home.

While it’s impossible to replace being physically present in the Mass, many seem appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to still engage with the sacred liturgy from afar.

“So grateful to have a Parish Staff that has responded to the current situation and found ways to continue offering sacraments and ministry,” wrote Jodee Hinton on Our Lady of the Valley’s Facebook page. “It was very special and much needed for my family to watch Mass today. My kids loved being able to see what actually happens on the altar.”

“Thank you Father, miss you and sharing Christ with you in person, but we will be with you soon with the help of Jesus Christ. Stay strong and safe,” wrote Judith Ann Aerne on Holy Cross in Thornton’s Facebook page.

Parishioners in their cars line up in the parking lot of Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora to have their confessions heard. Parishes are finding creative ways to offer the sacraments to the faithful while stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in place. (Photo provided by Queen of Peace)

Other parishes are also finding ways to continue providing other sacraments to the faithful. Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora, for example, has launched drive-through confessions on Saturdays to ensure people still have the chance to receive to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and they’re not the only parish to do so. It’s just one of the ways that they’re able to stay connected to their parishioners while their doors are closed.

“Since they can no longer gather here, we’ve tried to go to them,” said Queen of Peace pastor Father Felix Medina. “We’ve stayed busy. We livestream at least three liturgies a day: Morning Prayer and Adoration in the morning, English Mass at noon and Spanish Mass in the evening.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the Church is still open and it’s more present than ever before, that we will not be silenced, that we won’t stop reaching out to people now,” Father Medina said.

And by reaching out, Father Medina doesn’t mean that figuratively. Queen of Peace and other parishes such as Assumption in Welby and St. John the Baptist in Longmont have been calling their parishioners one-by-one to check in on them and see if they can help with anything.

“We’re essentially asking three basic questions: one, how are you doing; two, do you need anything; and three, can we pray with you?” Father Daniel Ciucci of St. John the Baptist said in an interview with Fox 31.

Volunteers at St. John the Baptist make phone calls to check in on parishioners. Outreach from parishes has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus outbreak, and they’re finding ways to rise to the occasion. (Photo provided by St. John the Baptist)

“As priests, we’ve maintained a life of prayer, but we’ve also been calling our parishioners,” Father Medina said. “We each try to call 50 or 100 a day. They’re very happy to hear us checking in on how they’re doing and how their family’s doing and whether they need anything – especially because we know some of them are lonely and are having a hard time.”

Of course, there’s a whole lot more that parishes do besides offer Mass, and they’re finding ways to keep those things going too. Nativity of Our Lord in Broomfield is offering assistance to parishioners who need it, whether it be delivering groceries or seeing a priest; Risen Christ in Denver is continuing its partnership with Food Bank of the Rockies and doing drive-up food distribution; youth ministers across the archdiocese are doing virtual youth group nights via Zoom. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The parishes of the Archdiocese of Denver will continue to find innovative and creative ways to serve the faithful through all of this. However, they need the vital support of their communities to do so. Many parishes have online giving portals set up through their own website, but you can also visit passthebasket.org to give to any parish in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.