Be part of new Gabriel House at Centro

Expanding on the family ministry component of its services, Centro San Juan Diego, the Hispanic Institute for Family and Pastoral Care of the Denver Archdiocese, will open a new Gabriel House. The house, the fifth in the archdiocese, will respond to the material, emotional and spiritual needs of pregnant women and mothers.

“The ministry of defending life is part of the Catholic mission,” said Luis Soto, executive director of Centro San Juan Diego and director of Hispanic Ministry for the archdiocese. “We see a good number of Hispanic women at the other houses.”

Centro has never done anything as “practical” as this, he said.

“It’s the first time we’re entering into the ministry of direct services.”

Established in 2003, Centro empowers Hispanic families through pastoral services and education including leadership training, advanced degrees, literacy programs, faith-based workshops and U.S. citizenship preparation, among many other courses.

“People can come for Gabriel House services, then also get information on classes,” he said. “It feeds very well into our family ministry.”

Mimi Eckstein is executive director of the Gabriel Project, a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. She headed up opening the first house in Denver in 2009, followed by additional houses in Aurora, Boulder and Lakewood.

“This type of outreach is a good fit for Centro and the surrounding community,” Eckstein said, mentioning its proximity to Charities’ Margery Reed Mayo Day Nursery at 1128 28th St. and nearby Samaritan House at 2301 Lawrence St.

“The ministries can collaborate,” she said. “We can help families by working together with other Catholic Charities’ operations right in downtown Denver.”

Organizers hope the “house”—located in a converted classroom of the historic 1889 building, formerly Sacred Heart School—will be ready to open mid-May. It will be blessed by Archbishop Samuel Aquila 11 a.m. May 15.

To help get Centro’s Gabriel House up and running, they are seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers. There will be an informational meeting at 6 p.m. March 31 for potential volunteers at Centro located at 2830 Lawrence St. They are also accepting donations of diapers, wipes, formula and baby clothes; and financial donations can be mailed to the administrative offices at 1341 Oneida St., Denver, CO 80220. For more information, contact Eckstein at 303-377-1577 or visit www.gabrielhousedenver.org.

 

Gabriel House at Centro San Juan Diego (expected to open in May)

Where: 2830 Lawrence St., Denver
What: Informational meeting for volunteers
When: 6 p.m. March 31
What: Blessing by Archbishop Samuel Aquila
When: 11 a.m. May 15
More information: www.gabrielhousedenver.org or 303-377-1577

COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.