It’s time to sign up: Summer 2017 events your kids will thank you for

Winter storm warnings won’t be ending anytime soon, but with a loaded summer of events ahead for Catholics in Denver, it’s not too early to plan ahead.

Summer events in the lineup span various ages, from youth to college students, and a few, such as Steubenville of the Rockies, open registration this month.

“There are some really cool summertime opportunities for them to have fun while learning about Catholicism from teachers who are very sincere, faithful, and dynamic. I wish I grew up in Denver during high school and middle school!” said Mary McGeehan, events and outreach coordinator at the Archdiocese of Denver.

Here’s a list of conferences, camps and events coming to the archdiocese.

Steubenville of the Rockies

Steubenville of the Rockies is one of the most popular conferences for high schoolers and is coming back for its 20th year in Denver. The weekend is packed with Mass, confession, worship, talks from great speakers and a moving adoration experience. Last year’s event brought over 2,500 youth and expects another crowd this summer. This year’s theme is “Elevate,” based on Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.” For more information, visit http://archden.org/steubenville. Registration is full.

Christ in the City

Christ in the City is a non-profit organization serving the homeless of Denver. A group of missionaries, volunteers, parishes and donors work to minister to the homeless relationally and help connect them to jobs, housing and other resources. Most importantly, through their ministry, they remind the homeless of their inherent dignity of human beings by simply befriending them. Families can help serve lunches every Wednesday and every second Saturday at noon, located at Lincoln Park. College students are invited to apply for their Summer of Service, which spans from June 2- June 30. For more information on a summer of service, email missiontrips@christinthecity.org or apply at http://christinthecity.co/summer/. Applications deadline is Monday, May 1.

Guppy Fest

Guppy Fest is a day-long youth retreat for sixth – eighth grades, held by St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, and this year, will be hosting its event for the 25th year. Last year’s event drew about 175 middle school-aged youth from 10 different parishes, but high school students are also invited to participate on the leadership team. The day includes talks, prayer, Mass, games, music and dancing. This year’s event is Wednesday, June 7, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Cost to attend is $10 per participant, and they are asked to bring a sack lunch. Contact Yifat Shahrabani at 303-220-3388, ext. 4 for more information.

Catholic Day at Water World

All youth are welcome to Catholic Day at one of the largest water parks in the country. Youth and their chaperones can enjoy the slides, wave pools or slow down and lounge by one of the many pools in the park.

“When I was a youth minister, I loved this day, because it was about having fun and connecting to the youth,” said Kim Perez, coordinator of youth ministry at the Archdiocese of Denver.

This year’s day is Wednesday, July 19. For more information, contact Nick Eden at 303-973-3969.

Totus Tuus

Totus Tuus is a parish-based catechetical program for first – 12th graders across the country. The organization sends teams of college students and seminarians in teams of four to host events for youth to help them develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and to experience their faith from vibrant young adults.

“A handful of my friends have served as Totus Tuus teachers or attended when they were younger and loved it,” said McGeehan.

For more information, visit http://archden.org/totustuus/ or email TotusTuusDenver@gmail.com.

Camp Wojtyla

If your kids are outdoorsy, this summer camp is the way to go. Held in the mountains of Colorado in June and July, the program’s mission is to offer a spiritual experience in nature, inspired by St. John Paul II’s love of bringing young people to the mountains before his time as pope. There are several different programs offered on various dates, for both middle school and high school-aged youth.

Rachael Perez, freshman, attended a camp last summer and grew in both her faith and friendship with her peers.

“Camp Wojtyla impacted me and how I live my faith. We had Mass outside everyday so that we could fully see God in the world around us and before us. Everyone was pushed to their limits mentally, physically and spiritually…the faith and fellowship of Jesus was taught through it. At Wojtyla, I found a group of girls that have become my faith family. We still keep in touch and lift each other up daily. Camp was where I got to see God everywhere in everything, and everyone.”

Currently, most programs are accepting registrations for the waiting list. For more information, visit http://camp-w.com or call 303-586-1799.

JPII Outdoor Lab

JPII Outdoor Lab is an environmental education program that offers backpacking trips during the summer as well as other events throughout the year. High school and middle school students can go in groups of up to nine people to the Sangre de Cristos, Holy Cross Wilderness or a pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico. For more information, go to: http://outdoorlab.jp2adventures.com.

Nazareth Middle School Summer Camp

Kids entering fifth – eighth grades for the 2017-2018 year are invited to a summer camp June 19-25 at Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center. Focusing on the theme of what makes life meaningful, the camp will offer Mass, confession, adoration and the rosary daily. Other activities include hiking, challenge courses, canoeing, sports, campfires and more. The camp is run by the Priests and Brothers of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and St. Mary’s Nazareth Middle School Youth Ministry. Register online at https://membership.faithdirect.net/events/details/565.

Prayer and Action

Prayer and Action is a mission trip program founded through the Diocese of Salina, Kansas by seminarians who wanted to offer a low-cost mission trip experience for people in their own communities. The name is taken from a quote about Mary from St. John Paul II that emphasized Mary’s dedication to both prayer and action. This will be the 6th year of Prayer in Action in the Archdiocese of Denver. Stay tuned for more information on this year’s trip at http://saintjohns.us/PandA/ or contact Elisabeth Krick (St. Joan of Arc) at 303-420-1232, ext. 203, or Tyler Eberle (St. John the Evangelist Parish) at 970-635-5817.

FOCUS Summer Project: YMCA of the Rockies

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is offering college-aged students the opportunity to work at the YMCA of the Rockies from May 26-August 4. Students will work during the day, and in the evenings and weekends, have the opportunity to receive formation in their faith and have fun with other students. Students will be given various jobs, so the sooner applications are received, the better the chance of getting the job of choice. Possible jobs include activities facilitator, horseback riding instructor, food service, housekeeping and more. The YMCA will provide pay for the job as well as room and board. Areas of faith formation include virtue, prayer, Catholic worldview and evangelization. For more information, or to apply, visit http://focusoncampus.org/summer-project.

Did we miss your event? Let us know! Visit http://archden.org/eflm.

COMING UP: Get away to pray this summer

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Whether it’s the crisp Colorado air or sipping a cool beverage by the poolside, there’s something special about summer.

Counting down the days until it’s safe to wear shorts is a yearly tradition here in Colorado, and though it sometimes comes later than expected, it doesn’t get much better than summers in the Rocky Mountains. Of course, with summer comes plans for vacations and relaxation, but as most Catholics know (or ought to, anyways), it can also be a great time for prayer and contemplation.

Denver Catholics are very fortunate in that Colorado is home to a number of beautiful and holy retreat sites that are, relatively speaking, just a stone’s throw away. Going on a spiritual retreat is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend time in gratitude for God’s many blessings, as well as in prayerful reflection and discernment of his plan for our individual lives.

Consider escaping to one of these retreat sites for a day or two this summer, either alone or with a group, and experience the peace and clarity only a spiritual retreat can bring.

Jesus Our Hope Hermitage

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Jesus Our Hope Hermitage was established in the early ’90s by Father Roger Mollision. The cabin is located on 62 acres of land in Littleton and is perfect for the individual who finds clarity by being in God’s creation. (Photo provided)

Located on South Dear Creek Road in Littleton, Jesus Our Hope Hermitage serves as an escape for those who find God’s solace in nature.

Founded in the early ‘90s by Father Roger Mollision, Jesus Our Hope started as a few prayer huts located on a plot of land purchased by Father Mollison. However, through the years and under the care of several religious orders, Jesus Our Hope is now 62 acres of rugged woodland with a quaint cabin nestled in the midst of it.

The four bedroom, three-bathroom cabin features a full kitchen, and is able to accommodate up to 10 people overnight. Additionally, there is a conference room that can hold up to 20 people for a day retreat. Both individual and group retreats are welcome. The location is devoid from all modern technological distractions, making it an ideal setting to be alone with the Lord; literally so, as the cabin also has an adoration chapel within it.

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Jesus Our Hope features an adoration chapel in the cabin, making it possible for retreatants to be alone with the Lord. (Photo provided)

“What makes the place so precious is that there is a chapel with the presence of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Father Nathanael Pujos, superior for the Community of the Beatitudes. Father Pujos and the Community of the Beatitudes are the current caretakers of Jesus Our Hope Hermitage.

There is also a prayer garden located on the grounds, and the Community of the Beatitudes are able to offer private Masses, confession and spiritual guidance to retreatants. Jesus Our Hope also offers guided day retreats, called Come and Rest, which is a day of silence organized by the Community of the Beatitudes.

Website: http://jesus-our-hope.org
Registration: Request dates at 303-697-7539 or jesusourhoperetreat@gmail.com

Mother Cabrini Shrine

The Sacred Heart of Jesus statues that overlooks I-70 is one of the most iconic landmarks located at Mother Cabrini Shrine. (Photo provided)

Overlooking the entrance to the I-70 corridor, Mother Cabrini Shrine is one of Colorado’s most beloved and popular retreat sites.

St. Frances Cabrini, more commonly known as Mother Cabrini. frequented Colorado in the early 1900s. She would visit Italian workers and their families in several of the mining districts of the Rocky Mountains. During her stays, she became fond of a property on the east slope of Lookout Mountain owned by the town of Golden. In 1910, she purchased the property and planted the seed for what is now Mother Cabrini Shrine.

What started as a summer camp for girls of Queen of Heaven Orphanage has become the fulfillment of Mother Cabrini’s vision for the property when she wrote, “I can envision many small chapels here where many pilgrims will come to pray.”

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The Stone House at Mother Cabrini Shrine is perfect for accommodating group retreats. (Photo provided)

Mother Cabrini Shrine is home to a variety of facilities that make it a great retreat spot for the summer, including a beautiful chapel and the famous Stone House. The site can comfortably accommodate up to 28 people overnight and twice that for a day retreat.

It also boasts a number of famous landmarks, such as the 22-foot Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that was carved and erected in 1954, the 373-step Stairway of Prayer leading up to the statue, or the seemingly endless running spring of fresh, Rocky Mountain water, which retreatants are welcome to drink from.

Website: http://mothercabrinishrine.org
Registration: 303-526-0758 or visit http://mothercabrinishrine.org/retreat-request

Ignatian Spiritual Retreat

The Ignatian Spiritual Retreat program was started in 2004 by Father Stephen Yavorsky as an outreach of Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colo. Their mission is to make the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola available to all and help to guide people through them.

“The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises grew out of St. Ignatius’ own conversion experience, and their purpose is to lead a person to true spiritual freedom in Christ,” said Paul Sapienza, Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Program of Denver.

These retreats are now an official ministry of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, though they maintain a close relationship with the retreat directors at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House and see their work as complementary.

Ignatian Spiritual Retreats are offered from September to May. Though some of the retreats take place in various locations in the Denver area, Sapienza said going away to a different location is not a requirement for these particular retreats.

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Ignatian Spiritual Retreats use the spiritual exercises developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola as the basis for their retreats. The exercises are intended to be used in the daily lives of retreatants as a way to draw nearer to the Lord and grow a more fruitful spiritual life. (Photo from Wikicommons)

“A retreat is simply a focused period of withdrawal for prayer, usually, but not always, under a director,” she said. “Our program serves people in the course of their daily lives, which means our retreatants pray while living at home and engaging in their everyday work and family commitments.”

There are several different types of retreats the program offers that differ in intensity: mornings and evenings of prayer, days of prayer, five-week retreats and spiritual exercises in everyday life.

Mornings and Evenings of Prayer serve as an introduction to the Ignatian spiritual exercises, and are recommended for people who are new to the idea. These retreats offer guided prayer experiences utilizing the Ignatian spiritual exercises and generally last one to two hours.

Days of Prayer is a day-long retreat that invite retreatants to pray, reflect and share with others how God is living and playing an active role in their own individual lives. Retreat directors give presentations and offer suggestions for prayer based on the Ignatian spiritual exercises.

Five-Week Retreats consist of daily prayer and reflection grounded in the spiritual exercises. Retreatants attend weekly group meetings and are encouraged to share their prayer experiences with others, while retreat directors offer spiritual direction and prayer exercises for the following week.

Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) is the most comprehensive and intense retreat experience the program offers. Retreatants are given spiritual exercises to practice in their ongoing, everyday lives in a regimented manner. They are asked to devote on hour to prayer daily, have daily periods of reflection, keep a journal documenting their prayer experiences and meet weekly with a spiritual director.

This retreat takes place over the course of seven to nine months, and because of its intensity, retreatants are required to fill out an application and must have had prior experience in spiritual direction.

Website: http://ignatianspiritualitydenver.org
Registration: 303-320-9995 or ignatianspiritualitydenver@hotmail.com