To Lodge in the Wilderness: Summer 2021 at Annunciation Heights

“O that I had wings like a dove! 
I would fly away and be at rest; 
yea, I would wander afar, 
I would lodge in the wilderness.” – Ps 55: 6-7 

What eloquent words to express the desire of a heart seeking rest!  Centuries ago, the psalmist put his pen to paper in the verses from Psalm 55, and today, more than ever, those words resound in our own experience.  How many of us, after the year we had in 2020, long for refreshment and rest?  And how many of us long to find it in the beauty of a place set apart, in the beauty of the “wilderness?” 

Annunciation Heights Catholic Youth and Family Camp exists precisely to be that place to “wander afar and be at rest.” This summer, we are excited once again to provide a Catholic home in the mountains for all who wander, a place of relaxation and rest in the awe-inspiring landscape of the Colorado Rockies! SIGN UP HERE!

With six weeks of youth camp and three family camps, Annunciation Heights is providing a variety of experiences to serve the Catholic family – both through family programs themselves and through youth camps that return children to their families set on fire for the Lord by their time spent at camp.  Camp is a transformative experience for staff as well as campers and families.  And this year, over 40 summer staffers will be joining us, each eager to share the joy and adventure of a life lived for Christ. 

“Freedom” is our theme for Summer 2021. Following the story of Joseph in Genesis (no, not Jesus’ father, an earlier Joseph with an amazing story!) as well as journeying through the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary to the victory of the Resurrection, campers and families will not only experience the freedom of time away from the busyness of lives back home; they will also be immersed in the freedom of our Catholic faith, freedom won for us by Christ’s death and resurrection.  Daily mass, adoration, and confession will be places of that encounter, further strengthening relationships both with God and one another. 

Annunciation Heights anxiously awaits the return of campers this summer.  Since our last summer of youth programming in 2019 (Summer 2020 was exclusively family programs), much has changed here at camp. The high ropes challenge course has new elements (including a Giant Swing), the chapel has been renovated, and the courtyard at the center of camp has received a facelift.  Furthermore, our missionaries and staff have prepared for months to ensure that each camper has a powerful and positive experience, with talks, skits, and games ready to create laughter and memories! 

As summer draws ever closer, and the desire to “fly away” to the mountains grows with the warming weather, consider Annunciation Heights for your family’s or your child’s mountain getaway, and experience the freedom that camp can offer!  May God give each of us the summer of refreshment we desire and need!  See you at the Heights! 

**Are camp fees a concern for your family?  Do not let money become prohibitive!  We have scholarships available.  See https://annunciationheights.org/summer-camp/ for details. 

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”