The impact of your gift is far-reaching

Denver Catholic Staff

Throughout 2019, Catholics have answered Christ’s call to serve others and advance his kingdom through their gifts to the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. Since its creation in 1965, the Appeal has continually addressed the physical, spiritual, educational, and pastoral needs of people throughout our archdiocese.

This year, nearly 22,000 Catholics have united to offer help and hope to others through their participation in the Appeal. Their gifts are shared with nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries that bring the light, hope, and love of Christ to others. Three of the largest ministries supported by the Appeal include Catholic Charities, Religious Education and our schools, and our two seminaries. So, what have they been up to this year?

Catholic Schools

While many other schools can claim rigorous academic standards, none can provide education with the fullness of faith and authentic moral formation. What motivated Michelangelo? Gave so many composers their heart-moving melodies? Illuminated so many scientific discoveries from the genome to the Big Bang (both made by Catholic priests)? Over 8,500 students partake in our tradition of academic excellence which relies on ACA support. Our schools educate the head and the heart, forming men and women to be intelligent, hardworking, and compassionate.

“As our Catholic faith should be in all aspects of life, faith and moral formation is at the center of the education our kids are receiving,” said Michael and Kelsey Lynch, whose school-aged children attend St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greeley.

“We would never choose a school simply for its academic excellence, while overlooking faith and community and we wouldn’t choose a school simply because it is Catholic,” said Kate McGreevy Crisham, whose children attend St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Denver. “We are so fortunate in Denver to be able to choose Catholic schools because they are academically excellent AND thoroughly Catholic.”

Seminaries

Along the lines of education, our seminaries are currently educating and forming 113 men who will serve as our future priests. It takes an average of seven years of rigorous graduate-level study once in seminary before a man is ordained, and considering their priestly salaries, student loans aren’t an option! Once ordained to the priesthood, these men will each serve the faithful of northern Colorado for an average of nearly 50 years!

When asked what he is most looking forward to after his ordination to the priesthood in May 2020, Adrian Hernandez, a transitional deacon at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary, replied, “I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of story God is going to write with me. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, ‘I am just a simple pencil in God’s hand.’ He is the writer, I’m just the pencil.”

Biblical And Catechetical Schools

If seminary formation sounds enticing but God’s plan for your vocation led you on a different path, our seminary offers Biblical and Catechetical Schools for lay people. Their programs range from short seminars on various topics to our flagship Denver Catholic Biblical school; a part-time study of the Bible over four years. Countless people enrolled in the Biblical School can’t say enough about how much it has deepened their understanding of Scripture.

“Never have the words of St. Jerome, ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’ been more evident,” said Frank S. “It’s difficult to put into words the transforming power the Catholic Biblical School has and continues to have. I literally leave class in complete wonder of the beauty contained in Scripture. My only regret is not having discovered this hidden treasure much sooner!”

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities operates with a hand-up approach, trying to help lift our neighbors out of poverty and foster long-term goals and independence. Over 105,365 men, women, and children received assistance from Catholic Charities in the past year, including Jennifer and her family.

“Catholic Charities has helped us become a closer family and provided independence not only to myself by in my children as well,” Jennifer said.  “Our hopes and dreams are to become more self-sufficient so that we can then share the compassion, kindness, and knowledge to others less fortunate like us.” 

We could certainly write a whole lot more success stories from just one of our ministries but hope this peek into what the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal does will inspire you to find ways to bring your own talents and gifts to our archdiocese. Why not make 2020 the year you volunteer regularly with Catholic Charities? Or enroll in a course (or enroll your kids or grandkids in one of our schools!)? Thank you to all who support the ministries of the archdiocese with their time, talent or treasure. We hope to see even more of you in 2020!

COMING UP: What parents want most from their child’s school — and how Catholic schools fulfill it

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By Carol Nesbitt

What do parents of school aged kids want most of all from their child’s school?

Safety

Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic

It’s probably first and foremost to know they’re safe — not only from physical harm, violence, and drugs, but also other negative influences kids have to navigate in today’s complicated and confusing world, including cultural pressures to do what ‘feels good’ instead of what is right, just and moral.

This past year, some news media outlets questioned the safety of students in Denver’s Catholic schools because of sex abuse from decades ago. The reality is that the Church and all of the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic Schools have worked diligently to ensure the safety of all students. In fact, many parents say they specifically chose Catholic schools here because they feel their children are safer than the alternatives. But the term “safe” is much broader in today’s society.

“Their physical safety, as well as the safety of their souls, is something that is always on our minds as parents,” said Kelsey Lynch, a parent of two school-aged children. She and her husband, Michael, said that knowing their children were safe in school was one of the main reasons they chose St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greeley.

“St. Mary’s has proven over and over that our children’s safety is on the forefront of their minds,” she said. “They are taking every preventative step possible to keep our children safe from the evils that are so prevalent in our world today. With open communication, facing the hard topics instead of shying away from them, and vetting all people that our kids will come in contact with, we feel a Catholic school is the safest place for our kids to receive an education.”

The safety of their children’s souls is equally as important to mom Kelsie Raddatz and her husband, Justin, who have five children. Their two oldest attend St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Loveland.

“There is truly no greater lesson to learn than to know that you are so incredibly loved by God and that God is so good. These crucial lessons aren’t allowed to be spoken in public schools,” Kelsie said.

Faith

Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic

That’s why the Raddatzes make the financial sacrifice to send their kids to St. John’s, with the strong belief that not only will their children be physically safe, but that they will fully understand that their purpose in life is to share Jesus’ love with others through everything they do; whether it be in the classroom or on the playground, speaking to others the way they would speak to Jesus.

“Every single moment is an opportunity to see Jesus present and to serve Him as well,” Kelsie continued. “What a blessed environment for our kids to learn and practice such crucial lessons!”

The Lynches say they can’t do it alone. For their children to become the saints they are called to be, the Lynches know that they need to work in partnership with their school community.

“Our kids’ teachers and classmates get more time with our kids during the week than we do, so it’s important that the people they are surrounded by are also helping them grow into the individuals God created them to be,” Kelsey said. “Our kids are learning what it is really like to have a strong faith family and the importance of a community that stands together in prayer and action to serve each other and the world around them, in both good and trying times.”

Kate McGreevy Crisham and her husband John echo the Lynch’s in their desire to have a strong faith foundation in their children’s education. That’s why they send their kids to St. Vincent de Paul in Denver.

“We are so fortunate in Denver to be able to choose Catholic schools because they are academically excellent AND thoroughly Catholic,” Kate said.

She and her husband wanted their faith to surround their children at home and at school. “We wanted God to be a part — actually the center — of the educational process of drawing out, igniting curiosity, working with challenging concepts and, as important, failing, struggling, and building resilience,” Kate shared. “Catholic schools value that process, encourage it, and love kids through it.”

Character

Photo by Brandon Young

She said she can see Jesus incarnate on a daily basis at St. Vincent de Paul.

“I see Jesus when I see an 8th grade boy stop to high five a group of kindergarteners. When I talk to the teachers of my kids, I see Jesus in their pure interest in what is best for my child — not what I want to hear — yet their words are delivered with professionalism and yes, love.

“From the maintenance staff to the principal, hearts are aligned in the work being done to educate the whole child.”

After exploring various options for preschool for their eldest child, Christy and Scott Kline toured Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, and although there was a free public school across the street, there was no question where they would send their kids. The decision was about so much more than simply educating their child.

“We have a ‘caught caring’ award (at the school) that is multi-faceted,” Christy said “Children are recognized for doing good — not academically — but in ways that benefit society and communities as a whole. Teachers and administration are ‘looking for the good’ in the school and finding it. When you look for something, it stands out.”

She feels that by looking for the best in people, you bring out the best. Kline also believes that strong parental involvement helps keep the school as safe as possible.

“The onus is on all of us to create an open, safe, transparent culture going forward, not just in Catholic organizations, but in all organizations and activities where children are involved,” Christy said.

Academics

Photo by Brandon Young

That same responsibility is on parents to choose schools that will reinforce the values they’re working to teach their children at home. David and Kathy Silverstein have had four children in Catholic schools in Denver over the past 20 years. Although there were many options for schools, including a charter school near their home, once they stepped foot inside St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Longmont, they knew it was the ‘only choice’ for their kids. As their children transitioned into high school, the Silversteins found that Holy Family High School was another perfect fit.

“In today’s world, finding a school that excels at education, sports and extra curriculars is challenging enough, but to find a school, particularly a high school, that prioritizes kindness, morality, personal responsibility, strength of character and just plain old being a good person — that is the uniqueness of Holy Family High School,” said Kathy. “An atmosphere of respect lives within the halls, between teachers, between students. It’s expected.”

For these families and countless others, they have experienced that it is the overall commitment by Catholic schools to keep students safe, to help them truly know they are loved by God, to incorporate faith into every subject area, and to set high expectations for students which reinforces parents’ decision to choose Catholic schools for their kids.

“My greatest desire for my children is for them to know how deeply they are loved by Jesus (and us, too!) and that their whole purpose in this life is to share Jesus’ love with others through every single thing they do,” Kelsie Raddatz said. “The classrooms are such a beautiful example of Jesus’ presence!”