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

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: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.