St. Cajetan youth and volunteers hold vaccine clinic for elderly

Rocio Madera

Despite the obstacles they face, thousands of elderly citizens from the Hispanic community gathered at St. Cajetan Parish in Denver to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Language, technology, transportation and even mistrust for the vaccine are just some of the difficulties Hispanics face when deciding to get vaccinated. However, thanks to Father Angel Perez and the dozens of volunteers from St. Cajetan Parish whom encouraged them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, elderly from the community were able to attend a drive-thru clinic at the church during the weekend of Feb. 5 and get vaccinated.   

Linda Sosa, parishioner at St. Cajetan for more than 30 years, was one of the first people to support this initiative, and along with Father Perez, they managed to get nearly 2,000 people to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Many of our people don’t have health insurance, do not know how to register online, and don’t speak English,” Sosa told the Denver Catholic. “All these obstacles stop them from seeking help all together. This is one of the main reasons this initiative started.” 

Linda Sosa (left) stands with Colorado Governor Jared Polis (right), who made a visit to the vaccine clinic at St. Cajetan’s during the weekend of Feb. 5. (Photos provided)

Among the dozens of volunteers for the drive-thru clinic, young adults and teens from the parish joined the cause by making phones calls to register the thousands of Hispanic elderly citizens and guiding them through the event. 

“I am so proud of them,” Sosa said. “These youths from our parish are doing incredible social work. I told them, ‘remember that Jesus gave his apostles the power to heal and sent them to cure the lepers. Apply what you have learned by taking action as well.’”  

Colorado Governor Jared Polis also made a point to visit the vaccine clinic and commended the parish’s efforts in getting vaccines to the elderly.

“Vaccines are our gateway to saving lives and getting back to the Colorado we love,” Gov. Polis said in a press release. “It was wonderful to visit with community members and providers on the frontlines of this race against the clock. My administration is laser-focused on making sure the vaccine is quickly and equitably distributed which is why we are getting out in the community, working with community-based groups to reduce hesitancy, meeting people where they are at, and working hard to get more shots into more arms.”

For Sosa, the Church represents the trust and hope the community needs in order to feel safe and encouraged to receive the vaccine that could save lives, while the volunteer work of the youth represents the future of the Church. 

“They are between 16 and 18 years old, they are very talented, and they’re the future of the Church,” she said. “I always try to get young people involved because serving is what makes you feel alive.” 

According to the City of Denver, the number of Hispanics who are eligible and who have received the COVID-19 vaccine is very low compared to the white population. However, these type of community events, especially at parishes, have encouraged people to reach out for help and get vaccinated. 

“Do not be afraid, come and follow the vaccination process,” said Sosa. “Put your arm and participate because you are saving lives and saving your families.”  

Sosa also mentioned that there will be more vaccination clinics, but for now, their priority is to apply the second dose to all of those who were part of the first round and have received their first dose. 

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