‘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: Colorado Capuchins celebrate 50th anniversary the same way they serve – humbly

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On May 5, the Colorado Capuchins quietly marked their 50th anniversary of serving in Colorado.

What was intended as a jubilant celebration with Masses from both of Denver’s bishops did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of public Masses. However, the friars of the Capuchin Province of St. Conrad celebrated by doing what they do best: humbly serving the people of Colorado.

In the spirit of the present circumstances, however, they also began reaching out to people in a socially-distant way. They began livestreaming a Mass from the St. Francis of Assisi Friary for the faithful to tune into and are creating a series of videos on their rich 50-year history here in Colorado. Additionally, the friars have been posting daily videos of encouragement on their YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/CapuchinFranciscans). The Masses can also be viewed there.

In a blog post published on the Capuchins’ website July 12, Brother Mark Schenk, O.F.M Cap., Provincial Vicar of the St. Conrad Province in Denver, wrote about the mission of the Capuchin Franciscans in Denver over the past 50 years.

“This year our province joyfully commemorates 50 years of Capuchin presence in Colorado,” Brother Schenk wrote. “Pope Pius XI once said of the Capuchins, ‘When help was sorely needed, in places that were abandoned and where no one else would go, there you will find the Capuchins.’

“Over the past 50 years, we have striven to be faithful to that identity, bearing the joy of the Gospel to the marginalized and forgotten. It was need that brought us westward and it was need that inspired our multitude of ministries to the poor, lost, sick, dying and imprisoned of Colorado.”

Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

The Capuchins came out west to Kansas in 1878 in response to a request from Bishop Louis Mary Fink of Leavenworth to care for the numerous German-speaking immigrants from Russia’s Volga River who were settling in the area around Hays. In 1970, following the Capuchin charism of going where they are needed, they expanded their ministry to Colorado at the request of Archbishop James Casey, who needed assistance in pulling Annunciation Parish in Denver back together.

On the morning of May 5, 1970, Father Paulinus Karlin and another friar on loan from Puerto Rico left Kansas and drove to Annunciation where a new chapter of Capuchin history began. The Capuchins remain at Annunciation Parish to this day, where they continue to embody the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi in brotherhood, poverty and fierce dedication to the parish and the people in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Today we continue the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi, bearing the Gospel to peoples and places that are neglected and forgotten,” Brother Schenk wrote. “Whether it be in the poor parishes ministering to immigrant populations, in the hospitals and care centers where our friars kneel in prayer at deathbeds or on the city streets where we offer food and fraternal love to the downcast and destitute, we want to venture where no one else will go.”

In March, the friars began livestreaming Mass from the St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver. Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

Among the many footprints the Capuchins have laid down in Colorado is the Samaritan House, which is now the largest Catholic homeless shelter in Colorado. Although they are no longer directly involved with its operation, the friars helped to plant the seeds for it through their Samaritan Shelter opened in 1982, and they maintain a constant presence there through a friar who serves as a chaplain.

One of the more innovative ways that the Friars reach out to those in need is through a food truck that the province launched in November 2018. Painted Franciscan brown with colorful artwork depicting local friars engaged in ministry as well as Saints Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, and Blessed Solanus Casey, the truck includes white text on the back acknowledging partnership with the Routzon Family Foundation, while messaging on the sides identifies it as belonging to the Capuchins and describing their mission as “Messengers of God’s mercy” and “Brothers to those in need.”

Two Sundays a month the truck heads to downtown sites where the homeless gather. There, friars and volunteers hand out sack lunches and beverages. They also give out seasonal items those living on the street may need such as hats, gloves and socks. Resources the poor can avail themselves of such as medical and mental health services are listed on the lunch bags.

“At first the people were hesitant because they saw a food truck and thought they had to pay,” said Capuchin Brother Jude Quinto, recalling the truck’s first run Nov. 25. “But when they saw friars in brown habits running around, then they knew what we were up to and a crowd started forming.”

The friars opened a food truck in November 2018 as a way to help the homeless of Denver have access to free, healthy meals. Fifty years ago, Capuchin Franciscan friars made their way to Colorado to serve the people here, and they have been a vibrant piece of the faith community ever since. (Photos courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscans)

Additionally, in 2011, the friars founded the Julia Greeley guild in honor of Julia Greeley, a former slave and lay Franciscan whose cause for canonization is currently underway. If she is canonized, she would be the first saint declared from Colorado.

Today, pandemic or not, the Capuchin Franciscans of the St. Conrad Province continue to live out their charism of brotherhood and sharing the Gospel with those who need it most/

“We continue to seek out the abandoned places where aid is sorely needed,” Brother Schenk concluded, “working alongside the laity to bear the good news of the Gospel where the need is desperate and few are willing to go.”