Don’t wait: Sign up for these summer activities now

Aaron Lambert

It might be cold now, but summer’s just around the corner — and now’s the time to make sure you’re not stuck bored at home when the sun comes out to shine.

Catholics in Denver are fortunate to have a wealth of fun, faith-forming conferences, camps and events to occupy their time in the summer months. Main staples of the summer months like the annual Steubenville conference and exciting new additions such as Annunciation Heights leave little excuse for kids, parents and even families to be looking for something to do this summer.

Here are a few options for summer activities happening in the archdiocese.

Annunciation Heights

The new youth and family camp located just outside of Estes Park will be holding their inaugural summer camps this year. There are several options beginning in June through August for both boy and girls from 4th to 12th grade. Additionally, Annunciation Heights will be holding several family camps over the summer – a perfect chance for families to enjoy God’s beautiful creation and spend some quality time together.

Registration for summer camps is open now! Visit annunciationheights.org to sign up.

Photo provided

Steubenville of the Rockies

The annual Steubenville of the Rockies conference here in Denver is consistently one of the coolest, most powerful events of the summer. Thousands of high school-aged youth come from all over the region to connect, learn and worship together. A lineup of dynamic speakers, musicians and of course, Mass with over 2,000 other Catholics makes Steubenville a can’t-miss event for youth this summer. If you’re not in high school but still want to partake in Steubenville, don’t fret! There are plenty of volunteer and service opportunities available.

Registration for Steubenville is open now, but fills up quick! To secure your spot and learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit archden.org/steubenville.

Photo by Aaron Lambert

Totus Tuus

Totus Tuus is a fun and energetic parish-based summer catechetical program for both grade school-aged children and middle and high school youth. It sends college students and seminarians from across the U.S. in teams of four to host events for youth to help them develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and to learn a vibrant example of faith from young adults. Parishes can apply for a Totus Tuus program to be held at their parish, and young adults can also apply to be teachers.

For more information, visit archden.org/totustuus, and check with your parish to see if they’re planning on hosting a Totus Tuus event!

Photo by Andrew Wright

Camp Wojtyla

Camp Wojtyla, named after Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) and founded by Scott and Annie Powell, is a summer camp that seeks to combine exciting outdoor adventures with deep faith formation. They have 12 different programs for boys and girls of all ages that run through the summer that include activities such as rock climbing, mountaineering, white water rafting and backpacking.

Many of the programs are already full, but visit camp-w.com to be added to a waitlist.

Photo by Kyle Burkey

Highlight Catholic Ministries

Formerly known as Frassati Sports and Adventure Camp, Highlight Catholic Ministries has expanded their programs to include sports camps for both boys and girls. Started in 2016 as a ministry of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Frassati Sports Camp is the boys’ division of Highlight that includes sports camps baseball, basketball, soccer and more. Badano Sports, named for Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano, is the girls’ division of Highlight that was just launched last year. The first Badano summer camps will be launching this summer.

For more information about the summer camps Highlight Catholic Ministries will be offering, visit highlightcatholic.org.

Photo by Aaron Lambert

COMING UP: Denver’s first Catholic classical high school opens under patronage of Our Lady of Victory

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Nearly half a millennium ago, thousands of Catholics heeded Pope Pius V’s call to pray the Rosary requesting Our Lady’s intercession for the deliverance of Europe from Turkish invasion.

In a miraculous triumph, at what came to be known as the “Battle of Lepanto,” the outnumbered Christian “Holy League” overcame the Turkish forces, winning Our Lady of the Rosary a new advocation: Our Lady of Victory.

Today, Denver’s new and first Catholic classical high school has chosen Our Lady of Victory as its patroness, with the mission of developing the whole person and forming students who are holy, well-educated and prepared to engage the present culture and contribute to society.

Our Lady of Victory High School is part of the Chesterton Schools Network, which encourages parent-led Catholic schools across the nation, inspired by the life and work of G.K. Chesterton, who wrote a poem about the victory at Lepanto.

Although the school is not an archdiocesan high school, it has been officially recognized by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila as a Catholic school. This fall’s inaugural 9th grade class will launch at the St. Louis Parish School building in Denver with nearly 20 students.

“Chesterton’s model of joyful Catholicism draws upon the classical tradition but is very evangelical: It engages the culture with a joyful approach to being Catholic… rather than a reactionary one,” said Dr. R. Jared Staudt, President of the school, Director of Formation at the Archdiocese of Denver and Visiting Associate Professor at the Augustine Institute. “We want to form saints to go out and do great things for the Lord within our culture.”

The classical education approach highlights the trivium (logic, grammar and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy).

“We emphasize Socratic dialogue as well as the trivium: how to read texts carefully and understand them through grammar, how to think about them in a coherent manner through logic, and then how to express yourself well in writing and speech through rhetoric; but also the quadrivium: How do we understand the logical order and beauty of the universe?” Dr. Staudt explained.

The benefits of this type of education are many, he assured.

“It’s not just a practical output, but about forming strong dispositions of thinking, of being able to evaluate things, being able to form a plan of action for your life that will translate into being successful in the future.

“It’s about becoming the person that God wants us to become… We emphasize the fundamental things that shape who we are, so that, secondarily, we are also good at doing things,” Dr. Staudt said.

Part of what makes this goal possible is the communion between faith and reason. Students begin the school day with daily Mass; read Homer, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dostoevsky, G.K. Chesterton, etc.; and study the Bible and the Catechism. They participate in a curriculum where history, philosophy, literature and theology are “braided together,” as their website states.

Part of what makes it unique is also its approach to the fine arts and to mathematics and science.

“We emphasize the fine arts because we want the students to be engaged with beauty and wonder… We want to humanize them, to make them more fully alive,” Dr. Staudt said.

“I would say we also approach math and science from that perspective. We take math and science very seriously, but not as something dry and textbook based, but something that is engaging the beauty, the logic, the wonder of the universe, and the fact that we can logically understand [it] because it is itself something that is a creative work of a mind, of God’s mind, and his beauty is impressed within it.”

As part of this approach, the school has implemented in its unique formation a lot of time in the outdoors, beginning the year with a three-day backpacking trip with the students and ending with a whitewater rafting trip.
The school also plans on having retreats throughout the year, attending and hosting fine arts events and providing service opportunities for its students.

“I think that’s truly part of what makes us unique, that we want to develop the whole person: body, mind and soul,” Dr. Staudt explained.

“It’s about becoming the person that God wants us to become… We emphasize the fundamental things that shape who we are, so that, secondarily, we are also good at doing things.”

The seed for the foundations of the school began with the desire of a group of Denver Catholic parents for a holistic, classical formation for their children, also motived by the need for a Catholic high school in the South Denver metro area.

Hoping to open a Catholic classical high school for their children in the future, six dads organized a series of monthly talks titled “The First Educators” at St. Mary Parish in Littleton from September to November 2018 as a first step to help in this direction.

Little did they know that their dream would become reality only a few months later, with the help of Dr. Staudt, the Chesterton Schools Network and the support of other parents around the archdiocese.

With six experienced teachers on board, the mission-driven school is set to begin forming students in the classical tradition.

“We want them to be holy. I would say that is our biggest overarching goal, that we want to form saints in the sense that they are thinking people who are well-educated and well prepared to engage the world and make a contribution in society – but [in a way] that holiness integrates everything else that we do,” Dr. Staudt concluded.

For more information, visit ourladyofvictorydenver.com.