Our Apostolic Moment: Archbishop Aquila issues Lenten pastoral note to the faithful of Denver

Archdiocese of Denver

STARTING ASH WEDNESDAY: Join Archbishop Aquila in praying a 54-day Rosary novena for a renewal of mission in the Archdiocese of Denver, ending on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 11). To learn how to pray a 54-day Rosary novena, click here.

As the Church prepares to enter into the season of Lent next week, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has issued a Lenten pastoral note to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver renewing the call for discipleship and mission in a world that has increasingly rejected the message of the Gospel. 

Entitled “Our Apostolic Moment,” the note serves as an important pastoral reflection on the changing times we live in, times that can most appropriately be called a “post-Christian” world. In the note, Archbishop Aquila invites all Catholics in the archdiocese to engage in three intentional Lenten practices that will better equip them to live in this “apostolic age.” 

Since his Ad Limina visit with Pope Francis at the beginning of last year, Archbishop Aquila has been in fervent conversation with the Lord about the mission of the Archdiocese of Denver, seeking the answer to the question: what are we as Christians called to bring to these troubled times? Throughout the many challenges of 2020, it became more and more evident to the archbishop that the answer is, and will always be, Jesus Christ.

This pastoral note is the fruit of deep prayer and is borne out of a conviction by Archbishop Aquila that, in this move from a Christendom to an apostolic time, building a culture of mission, focused on compellingly proclaiming the message of the Gospel, is where the Lord is calling him to lead the faithful of the archdiocese as their shepherd. 

It is both a rallying cry for those Catholics who have become discouraged in their faith, and a call of hope and support for those Catholics who have been clinging to Christ throughout the pandemic and the social unrest of the past year, inviting them to join the archbishop and all faithful of the archdiocese to build a culture of mission together. 

Below, Archbishop Aquila answers a few questions about his pastoral note. Read it in full at archden.org/our-apostolic-moment.

What is the goal of this letter?
Archbishop Aquila: We live in an incredibly confusing time for many faithful Catholics. I wrote this letter to bring clarity to the moment we are in and to provide a clear direction forward. All of our efforts to walk forward in faith must be rooted in an encounter with Christ as the unshakeable foundation for building a culture of apostolic mission in the Archdiocese of Denver. The three invitations I offer in the letter are, for me, key first steps in coming back to the primacy of that encounter and the Gospel. 

Why write this letter now?
Archbishop Aquila: The confluence of world, political and Church events, coupled with the shift from a Christian culture to a secular culture, has made it clear to me that we are in a unique moment in history. This Lent, I could not miss an opportunity to speak clearly to the faithful of the archdiocese about what I have received in prayer. I am hearing from many faithful who are deeply confused by the moment we are in; in prayer, I believe that the need to proclaim a clear purpose for us this Lenten season was urgent and could not wait. 

Who is this letter for?
Archbishop Aquila: The primary audience for this letter is those who live in the Archdiocese of Denver, since it is the portion of the flock God has entrusted to me, but anyone who has a desire to walk with us is welcome to participate in preparing for the apostolic age we are living in.   

In a particular way, I feel a unique responsibility and burden to speak to those faithful who have been clinging to Christ throughout the pandemic and the social unrest of the past year, to call them to not lose hope and to join me in building this culture of mission together keeping the eyes of our hearts fixed on Jesus Christ. 

Read the pastoral note in full at archden.org/our-apostolic-moment.

COMING UP: From rare books to online resources, archdiocesan library has long history of service to students

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National Library Week, observed this year from April 4 to April 10, is the perfect occasion to highlight the essential role of libraries and library staff in strengthening our communities – and our very own Cardinal Stafford Library at the Archdiocese of Denver is no exception.  

Since 1932, the library has served as a religious, intellectual, and cultural resource for seminarians and students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As the library of the seminary, we are always responsible for the four dimensions of the priestly formation of our seminarians. The library is charged with being responsible to all the divisions of the Seminary: the Lay Division (Catholic Biblical School and Catholic Catechetical School), the Permanent Deacon Formation Division, and the Priestly Formation Division, said Stephen Sweeney, Library Director. 

In addition to being one of the main resources to the seminary, the Cardinal Stafford Library serves the needs of other educational programs in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the St. Francis School for Deacons, the Biblical School, the Catechetical School and the Augustine Institute. While the library is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously open to anyone, giving people access to more than 150,000 books, audios, and videos. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library was named after Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican and former Archbishop of Denver from 1986 to 1996. He was a dedicated advocate of the library and of Catholic education.

In 1932, the library was established by two seminarians, Maurice Helmann and Barry Wogan. While they were not the first seminarians to conceive the idea of establishing a library, they are considered the founders for undertaking its organization.  

Since its founding, the library has grown and compiled a fine collection of resources on Catholic theology, Church history, biblical studies, liturgy, canon law, religious art, philosophy, and literature. Special collections include over 500 rare books dating back to the early 16th century and many periodicals dating back to the 1800s. The oldest publication in the library is a book on excommunication published in 1510. The Cardinal Stafford Library is also home to various relics and holds bills personally written by some of those saints.  

Over the past few years, the library has undergone a process of beautification through various renovations that include improvements in lighting, flooring, and even furniture restoration. During these difficult times, libraries are doing their best to adapt to our changing world by expanding their digital resources to reach those who don’t have access to them from home. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library provides a community space; we subscribe to about 200 print journals and have access to literally thousands more through online resources available on campus computers, Sweeney added. “I have been the Library Director for almost 11 years. I absolutely love my work, especially participating in the intellectual formation of the faithful from all of the dioceses we serve”.  

For more information on the Cardinal Stafford Library, visit: sjvdenver.edu/library 

Featured photo by Andrew Wright