‘This Jesus heals’: Gender Matters Conference to share the truth of God’s love

Moira Cullings

Same-sex attraction and gender identity are among the most-talked about issues in secular society.

“To some extent, everybody has some type of relational or sexual brokenness,” said Scott Elmer, Executive Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Denver.

“It’s a thing where you’re tempted to think it’s such a hot button issue, maybe the Church doesn’t have an answer or that the Church’s answer would be incredibly unfulfilling,” he said.

But the Church does have an answer, and it will be addressed at the Gender Matters Conference, presented by Desert Stream Ministries on Jan. 19.

“What Gender Matters and what Desert Stream does is they say that Jesus has an answer and that the Father has given you an identity as his son or his daughter, and you’ll find fulfillment there,” said Elmer.

“Even if it’s somebody that’s experienced profound same-sex attraction, the Lord can actually bring about healing in that.”

Elmer believes that through Desert Stream, the conference has great potential to heal the hearts of those who attend.

“Desert Stream Ministries is a ministry which is designed to expose people to the love of God the Father, receive their identity in Jesus Christ and heal the wounds that have come from their brokenness,” he said.

Although the conference will focus on same-sex attraction and gender identity, it will be helpful to all who struggle with sexual or relational issues.

“The conference is designed for people that are looking for how Jesus answers people with this type of brokenness,” said Elmer. “If you come, you’ll realize that the Lord wants to restore and bring to fulfillment something in you.”

That fulfillment can come out of even the most complicated wounds.

“Most of the wounds you and I have is because of failed relationships,” said Elmer. “So, it’s actually relationship that restores that wound. The communal aspect with other Christians is necessary, too.”

The conference will utilize the teachings of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, as well as Scripture, to explain the Church’s position on these issues.

“[Desert Stream] brings people to the source of healing, which is Jesus, and then through some teaching, some ministry and powerful small group experiences, the Lord ministers healing,” said Elmer.

“The people that have been sent to it have experienced profound healing, profound renewed intimacy with Jesus and knowing him in a new and powerful way.”

Elmer explained that although society strives to make it easy for people who struggle with these issues by accepting them without question, “it’s a false compassion in the sense that we don’t think that’s the highest dignity that God called them to live.

“He doesn’t want to just leave them in brokenness,” he added. “This Jesus heals.”

Aaron Lambert contributed to this story.

Gender Matters Conference

Saturday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1300 S. Steele St.
$25

Visit gendermatters.eventbrite.com
to register.

COMING UP: Prophet Elijah House: An opportunity to support our retired priests

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Our priests enrich every age and stage of our lives. Through them, we are baptized, masses are celebrated, sins are forgiven, couples are united in marriage, and loved ones are delivered into the loving hands of God.

Unfortunately, after giving a life of service to the faithful, retiring typically at age 70, priests often are not able to afford a place to live, especially in Denver where housing costs continue to rise.  Luckily, we all now have an opportunity to care for them by supporting Prophet Elijah House, where they are guaranteed a locked-in monthly rate that will not outpace their pension.

The Prophet Elijah House, officially opened in April, is located on the campus of St. John Paul II Center.  The house offers its residents, retired priests, a comfortable place to enjoy their retired years.

“Our priests have helped nurture us spiritually throughout their lives, providing the sacraments and all that a priest does,” said Keith Parsons, Chief Operating Officer for the Archdiocese of Denver.

“Although they have a nice retirement pension…It’s not sufficient to pay for an appropriate place in our city. The cost of housing, especially for seniors living in Denver, is very expensive,” he added.

Named after the Old Testament prophet Elijah, the two-story, 24,150-square foot facility has 12 suites for retired priests and two guest rooms (for visitors or priests recovering from medical procedures).  It also offers communal areas to aid fraternity including a chapel, community kitchen, dining area, entertainment room with reading and conversation areas.  Priests also can participate in Mass, fitness and rehab programs, and enjoy community life with their brother priests.

“It’s already served as a blessing for those who are living here now… It’s been a tremendous service to our priests in helping them and letting them know that we are with them,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told the crowd during the opening ceremony in April.

Six priests are already living in the Prophet Elijah House, and more are expected to move in during the coming months. Other priests, currently in active ministry, have added their name to the Prophet Elijah House registry and intend on moving in when they reach retirement.

“For me, a strong part of priesthood is fraternity. I look forward to a greater fraternity when the place has been around a while and more people will come,” said Father Tom McCormick, who moved in this past December just after being diagnosed with bladder cancer.  At the Prophet Elijah House he was able to receive assistance from his fellow residents.

However, none of these would be possible without those who generously donate to the Prophet Elijah House. About half the facility’s cost was provided by donors who wanted to make the center possible and keeps operating by donations of people who are willing to give back and take care of those shepherds who have taken care of us.

Your donations are vital to keep this center going and alleviate the burden of the expense it requires to deliver services and care to our retired priests who have given us so much.

“You’ve served us wholeheartedly and unreservedly and exclusively,” said Deacon Steve Stemper. “There is no one that we could be more grateful for than you — our priests.”

Contributions to the Prophet Elijah House can be made through their website. To donate, visit elijahdenver.org/support-our-priests.