WATCH: Bishop Rodriguez to celebrate special Mass for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

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In celebration of the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Archdiocese of Denver will join Pope Francis and our brothers and sisters from around the world in this international celebration, hosting a special holy mass. The intent of this mass is to express concern, increase awareness, and pray for the many different vulnerable people on the move, making sure no one remains excluded from society.

The celebration will take place Sept. 29 at the Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Parish at 3 p.m. with a Holy Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez. The bilingual Mass will incorporate elements from various Catholic Cultures around the world. Mass will be followed by a festival with cultural dances, music, and food. Click here to view the official Facebook event page.

The Catholic Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees since 1914, the first being held shortly before the outbreak of WWI. This year, with the theme “It is not just about migrants,” the Pope tells us that this celebration is not limited to migrants and refugees, it is about all of us, humanity, and our common desire to build a better world.

“It’s an opportunity to pray for our brothers and sisters that are going through this situation, migrants and refugees, and to raise awareness of the problem, said Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, who will be celebrating the Mass “We are a migrant community, Hispanics, Africans, Asians, and we want to pray for this reality, we want to ask the Lord for his blessing in this situation we’re living and pray for the United States that is our host country. We all want to join the holy father on September 29.”

Bishop Rodriguez also took the opportunity to invite everyone to this Eucharistic celebration, emphasizing the importance of praying together as one community.

“The invitation is for everyone. We will have the participation of the Hispanic, African, Vietnamese, the Pakistan-Catholic, Burmese communities, etc. and also the American community that must and will be present,” he said.

As far as the political side of the migrants and refugee issue, Bishop Rodriguez made it clear that this celebration is about the human side of the problem and coming together as one.

“For us Catholics, when we talk about migration, migrants, or refugees, we are not talking about the sociological phenomenal of politics. For us, and this is the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘it’s not only about migrants’ it’s about our fears, not only about migrants it’s also about humanity and charity,” the bishop explained. “I know there is a political side of the issue, but our perspective is the Christian and the human side. People migrate because of different circumstances looking for a better future for them and their children, or they’re fleeing war, we see it all over the world, not just in the United States, and we want to be aware of it, pray for it, and approach it as humans, as Christians.”

Migrants and Refugees Mass

Sunday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m.
Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs,
4695 N. Harlan St., Wheat Ridge, CO

Interview with Bishop Jorge Rodriguez in Spanish. 

COMING UP: Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

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Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

Livestreamed Masses, drive-through confession and more are sustaining the faithful during quarantine

Aaron Lambert

Nothing like creativity and some humor to make a tough situation a little easier to endure.

“It took generations, but they have succeeded where the rest of us have failed. Children, of all ages throughout the world, have successfully given up school for Lent,” St. John the Baptist Parish in Longmont posted on its Facebook page April 1. Quite a few “Haha” reactions ensued.

The post, of course, refers to the fact that because of the coronavirus pandemic, students are not attending classes in-person and are instead learning from home. This homebound engagement is true for pretty much every other public institution, including Catholic churches. Parishes across the Archdiocese of Denver are having to adapt to a temporary reality where Masses are empty.

Thankfully, that aforementioned creativity, strong communities and a little help from the internet are making it possible for parishes to still serve the faithful in plenty of ways. For many parishes, this means something as simple as livestreaming Masses for the faithful to participate in from home.

While it’s impossible to replace being physically present in the Mass, many seem appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to still engage with the sacred liturgy from afar.

“So grateful to have a Parish Staff that has responded to the current situation and found ways to continue offering sacraments and ministry,” wrote Jodee Hinton on Our Lady of the Valley’s Facebook page. “It was very special and much needed for my family to watch Mass today. My kids loved being able to see what actually happens on the altar.”

“Thank you Father, miss you and sharing Christ with you in person, but we will be with you soon with the help of Jesus Christ. Stay strong and safe,” wrote Judith Ann Aerne on Holy Cross in Thornton’s Facebook page.

Parishioners in their cars line up in the parking lot of Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora to have their confessions heard. Parishes are finding creative ways to offer the sacraments to the faithful while stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in place. (Photo provided by Queen of Peace)

Other parishes are also finding ways to continue providing other sacraments to the faithful. Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora, for example, has launched drive-through confessions on Saturdays to ensure people still have the chance to receive to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and they’re not the only parish to do so. It’s just one of the ways that they’re able to stay connected to their parishioners while their doors are closed.

“Since they can no longer gather here, we’ve tried to go to them,” said Queen of Peace pastor Father Felix Medina. “We’ve stayed busy. We livestream at least three liturgies a day: Morning Prayer and Adoration in the morning, English Mass at noon and Spanish Mass in the evening.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the Church is still open and it’s more present than ever before, that we will not be silenced, that we won’t stop reaching out to people now,” Father Medina said.

And by reaching out, Father Medina doesn’t mean that figuratively. Queen of Peace and other parishes such as Assumption in Welby and St. John the Baptist in Longmont have been calling their parishioners one-by-one to check in on them and see if they can help with anything.

“We’re essentially asking three basic questions: one, how are you doing; two, do you need anything; and three, can we pray with you?” Father Daniel Ciucci of St. John the Baptist said in an interview with Fox 31.

Volunteers at St. John the Baptist make phone calls to check in on parishioners. Outreach from parishes has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus outbreak, and they’re finding ways to rise to the occasion. (Photo provided by St. John the Baptist)

“As priests, we’ve maintained a life of prayer, but we’ve also been calling our parishioners,” Father Medina said. “We each try to call 50 or 100 a day. They’re very happy to hear us checking in on how they’re doing and how their family’s doing and whether they need anything – especially because we know some of them are lonely and are having a hard time.”

Of course, there’s a whole lot more that parishes do besides offer Mass, and they’re finding ways to keep those things going too. Nativity of Our Lord in Broomfield is offering assistance to parishioners who need it, whether it be delivering groceries or seeing a priest; Risen Christ in Denver is continuing its partnership with Food Bank of the Rockies and doing drive-up food distribution; youth ministers across the archdiocese are doing virtual youth group nights via Zoom. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The parishes of the Archdiocese of Denver will continue to find innovative and creative ways to serve the faithful through all of this. However, they need the vital support of their communities to do so. Many parishes have online giving portals set up through their own website, but you can also visit passthebasket.org to give to any parish in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.