Rediscovering parish boundaries

When you meet a fellow Catholic, the question oftentimes asked is, “What parish do you attend?” Over the past year, every parish in the archdiocese has been involved in an evaluation and planning process to determine, among other things, how people answer that very question and to help me decide how to best align our resources with our needs.

As you can imagine, with 114 territorial parishes, this is a very large and complex project. Working with the pastors of the archdiocese, we are engaged in systematically reviewing and, where advisable, making changes to parish boundaries to reflect the real scope of their ministry. Once these changes have been determined, they will be officially decreed, printed in the Denver Catholic and published on its website (www.denvercatholic.org).

I am aware that many of you are not familiar with the idea that each parish has boundaries. Typically, they are drawn along roads or using landmarks. The purpose of these boundaries is to establish a spiritual home for the Catholic faithful living in a particular area and to indicate to the parish’s pastor the people for whom he is responsible.

The concept of parish boundaries is obviously easier to understand and adhere to in areas where natural boundaries, such as great distances, exist. In cities, where many parishes are easily accessible, the idea of boundaries is less definite. While proximity to their home is usually a key factor, people choose a parish for a variety of reasons. It is sometimes a reality that the parish within whose boundaries people reside is not technically the closest parish to their home.

As we make known the new boundaries, many of you will discover that you are members of a parish but live outside of its boundaries. Thus, as your shepherd, I would like to give you the following pastoral guidance.

  • Parish boundaries are relevant from an administrative point of view. Not only are parishes planned in such a manner that they provide a church for people living in the area, they also help determine which priests are responsible for the pastoral ministry needs of hospitals, nursing homes, religious institutes, etc.
  • It is my intention that you will try, in good faith, to attend the parish within whose boundaries you reside.
  • If you choose otherwise, I ask that you have an honest reason for doing so and that you commit yourself to being a faithful parishioner wherever you go.
  • I discourage the practice of “parish hopping,” which is often done to find a Mass time that “fits in” with one’s weekend plans. Mass is not something that we “get out of the way.” Sunday Mass is to be the focal point of our weekend. Setting aside time to worship the Father in the one Sacrifice of Christ with fellow believers, which he gave us as a final gift before his death and resurrection, helps us to live as his faithful sons and daughters and feeds our souls to help us keep God’s greatest commandment to love him with our whole being and to serve others as he did.
  • Parishes should be communities where people generously give of their time, skills, and resources, building up the kingdom of God among us. Achieving this requires committed parishioners who are not routinely attending different parishes.
  • The practice of seeking out, or following a favorite priest can also be a pitfall. While I understand the desire to enjoy Mass, hear a good homily, and be among friends, the central focus of our faith is the Eucharist, not the personality of a priest. We participate in the Eucharist to join our lives to Jesus Christ and offer ourselves to the Father with him. If we are to be faithful for our entire lives, then our faith must be founded on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, living in the heart of the Trinity and nourishing this relationship through his sacraments.

As we work through this important process, I ask that you take the opportunity to pray for your parish, your pastor and priests, all of those living within your parish’s boundaries and the whole archdiocese.

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With a renewed awareness of our parishes and neighborhoods, we should recall the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan who cared for the man he found beaten on the side of the road. “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” Jesus asked the lawyer who had questioned who his neighbor was.  The lawyer answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him and to us, “Go and do likewise” (cf. Luke 10:36-37). Let us pray for our parishes and our neighbors in this Year of Mercy.

For more information visit www.ArchDen.org/Boundaries 

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.