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: Thomas Fitzsimons: The unsung Catholic Founding Father 

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As our nation celebrates the day of its independence and subsequent founding as a country on July 4, a look back some lesser-knowCatholic history of this historic event seems warranted.  

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin: these are names every American knows. Pull out your wallet and you’ll likely see at least one of their faces on the money you carry aroundAnd while this nation was founded on principles rooted in Christianity, none of these men were Catholic. In fact, of the men history calls the Founding Fathers of America, only two were. 

Many may already be familiar with Founding Father Charles Carroll, a Catholic and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and whose brother John was the first Catholic bishop assigned to what would become the United States. However, Carroll was not the only Catholic who played a role in the founding of our country. The other was Thomas Fitzsimons, a name that is not mentioned much (if at all) in U.S. history classes but deserves to be recognized nonetheless.  

The unwieldy named Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, published in 1887, paints a vivid picture of Fitzsimons and the way his faith informed his character. While the other Founding Fathers were meeting and deliberating about the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons joined the Continental Army anfought on the frontlines against the British army. 

Captain Fitzsimons commanded his company of militia until 1778, when France entered the war. British troops withdrew from Pennsylvania and began to focus on the southern states. It was at this time that Fitzsimons became more involved in politics at the state level. In 1782, he became a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1786, he was elected as a Pennsylvania state legislator and served for three terms until 1789. In 1787, he was selected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Congress, where the United States Constitution was written and ratified. He, along with Daniel Carroll, were the only two Catholics to sign to Constitution. 

Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1741, not much else is known about Fitzsimons’ family. He had three brothers – Nicholas, Andrew and John – and one sister, Ann. He and his family immigrated to America as early as 1760, where they became residents of Philadelphia. It was here that Fitzsimons would stake his claim as a businessman and politician. 

In 1763, Fitzsimons married Catharine Meade, whose brother, George Meade, would later go into business with Fitzsimons and build one of the most successful commercial trade houses in Philadelphia. Throughout his life, Fitzsimons was in close correspondence with Bishop John Carrollthese letters revealed insights into the Catholic Founding Father’s personal life. In a letter to Bishop Carroll in 1808, Fitzsimons wrote of being married to Catharine for 45 years. Additionally, local baptismal records show that he and Catharine stood as sponsors at the baptisms of three of Meade’s children. 

In 1774, Fitzsimons began his first foray into politics when he was elected as one of 13 Provincial Deputies who were given authority to call a general meeting of the citizens. It is believed he was the first Catholic to have ever held public office in the budding United States. Even so, anti-Catholic bigotry was common at the time and did exist within some of his fellow statesmen, such as John Adams, who once said in an address to the people of Great Britain that the Catholic faith was “a religion that has deluged your island in blood and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.” 

Fitzsimons’ first stint in public office was brief, only lasting from May to July, but it was a foreshadowing his future involvement in state affairs. As the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Fitzsimons formed a company of soldiers to fight against the British army. He was assigned to the Third Battalion under Col. Cadwalader and Lieut. Col. John Nixon, who was the grandson of a Catholic. Behind the scenes, as George Washington and the like organized committees and framed what would become the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons ascended to the rank of Captain and continued to serve his country as a soldier and patriot.

In addition to his tenure as a commanding officer and politician, Fitzsimons also found success in other ventures. In 1781, he helped found the Bank of North America, the United States’ first de facto central bank, and served as its director until 1803. The latter years of his life were spent primarily in private business, but he maintained a consistent interest in public affairs; even Fitzsimons wasn’t exempt from the old adage, “once a politician, always a politician.” 

Through all of these endeavors, and even after befalling troubled financial times in the early 1800s, Fitzsimons remained a diligent philanthropist. He gave immense support to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia and was invested in the improvement of public education in the commonwealth. As one of his contemporaries wrote after his death in 1811, “he died in the esteem, affection and gratitude of all classes of his fellow citizens.” 

Fitzsimons was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia, which is now part of Independence National Historical Park. His name may not be a household one like Washington or Jefferson, but Fitzsimons can be remembered as something of an unsung Founding Father of the United Statesa man whose life of quiet faith, humble service and admirable patriotism exemplifies the values that this country was founded upon in a simple yet profound way.