Ways to give to the poor this Christmas

Therese Bussen

Giving to the poor is something we should all do as Christians, but as we remember that Christ gave himself to us when he became man, the Christmas season is an especially good time to give more to those less fortunate.

“Saint Lawrence answered it best,” said Father Ron Cattany, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “They are the treasure of the Church!”

The Cathedral serves the poor year-round through their breakfast sandwich line, midday grocery pantry and afternoon snack. It’s also open 86 hours a week to provide a place of security, warmth and refreshment through the use of bathrooms, Father Cattany said.

“The poor offer to you and me the grace to live a Life of Beatitudes. Their needs just might be our road to salvation,” Father Cattany added. “Remembering the poor at Christmas should remind us of their daily needs.”

Here are a few ways you might give to the poor this Christmas season.

Father Woody Giveaway
Every year at the Cathedral, people hand out $20 to the homeless to honor the tradition of Monsignor C.B. “Father Woody” Woodrich. This year, it takes place on Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. Father Cattany estimates between 700 and 1400 people to attend the event, which begins with a Liturgy of the World proclaimed by Regis University students, a “discussion about our support for those in attendance on their spiritual and life journey,” and envelopes with Father Woody’s image and cash inside, he said.

“Two years ago, as I was giving an envelope to one of the attendees, he gave me an envelope back. He said, This is a gift for you — it contained six cents,” Father Cattany said. “Last year I showed that envelope to the attendees. As a result, several of the folks gave me their prayer books and special items and asked me to hold on to them until this year. I will share them on Dec. 14th. Our bond with these wonderful folks is one of the most sacred bonds we will ever experience.”

With Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities in Denver has several different ministries that offer several opportunities to volunteer. Visit their volunteer hub and give your time in any of these areas: Family and childcare, housing and shelter, women’s services, senior services, mentor/teaching, special opportunities and group opportunities. Samaritan House, a homeless shelter, and Marisol Health, a women’s health clinic, are great places to serve.
Visit the volunteer hub at serveccdenver.volunteerhub.com/events/indexv1.

Through your parish
Pay attention to the giving opportunities going on at your parish, as most parishes participate in some kind of giving during the holiday season, from food pantry drives to having parishioners help visit the homebound.

Give money
Colorado Gives Day is Dec. 5 this year, so it’s a great time to consider donating to any special causes or charities near to your heart. Other creative ways to give monetarily might be to pay for someone to go home for the holidays or to tip generously when you go out to eat.

Send gifts
There are plenty of organizations where you can donate gifts to children or families in need. Donate to Compassion International to provide a gift for a child in need here: https://www.compassion.com/christmas-gift-for-needy-children.htm, or donate a shoe box of items to a child in a third world country through Samaritan Purse here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/. You can also donate your family’s unused clothes still in good condition to a clothing drive, especially socks and mittens for colder winter weather.

Give time
Spending time with others is another great way to give. Visit the elderly at Mullen Home in Denver, or visit the homebound and help them cook, clean or decorate. Helping with children at daycare, babysitting for a family to give the parents a date night, or bringing meals to a new and exhausted family are other great ways to give your time. Christ in the City also serves meals to the homeless ever second Saturday of the month and invite anyone to come volunteer and spend time with the homeless. For more information, visit christinthecity.co/volunteer/.

Give food
One of the more traditional ways to give during the holiday season is participating in soup kitchens like Denver Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen or at a parish. Donating food to a local drive or preparing holiday meals to give to people in need is another way. You can also bake cookies and give them to neighbors or friends going through a tough time.

Adopt a family
Know someone in need in your community? Have friends and family pitch in to help provide for them this season, such as buying Christmas dinner for a single mom or low-income family and bringing them a few gifts.

Other ideas for giving
Many people are lonely during the holidays. Give by inviting someone to your Christmas dinner, especially if he or she doesn’t have a family to spend it with. Another way give is spiritually: Invite someone to go to Mass with you or to join you in prayer.


COMING UP: Remembering Denver’s patron of the poor, Father Woody

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Remembering Denver’s patron of the poor, Father Woody

25th memorial Mass to honor works of mercy continuing in priest’s name

Roxanne King

“His works continue. His love endures.”

So reads the invitation to the memorial Mass and reception marking the 25th anniversary of the death of the famed Monsignor C.B. “Father Woody” Woodrich.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila will be the main celebrant of the Mass, set for 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at Holy Ghost Church downtown. All are invited.

“We want to remember him well and beautifully,” Victoria McCabe, director of Father Woody Programs at Regis University, said about her former pastor. “We’ll gather as many family and friends as we can to celebrate his ministry here on earth—the ministry that continues with his shepherding from heaven.”

Father Woody, a former New York City adman, co-founded Samaritan House, the first facility in the nation built specifically to shelter the homeless; started a renowned Christmas dinner with gifts and a holiday money-giveaway that still serve thousands of poor each year; headed archdiocesan communications; served as editor of the Denver Catholic Register (now the Denver Catholic), where he more than tripled the circulation; pastored Holy Ghost and Annunciation parishes, and ministered as a hospital chaplain.

When he died suddenly at age 68, an obituary in his former newspaper called him “Denver’s patron saint of the hungry and homeless.”

It seems providential that the 25th anniversary of his death should occur in the Year of Mercy, as mercy was the mark of his priesthood, McCabe said.

“Every person mattered to him—every person,” she said, adding that he was led by Christ’s admonition, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Mt 25:40).”

Father Woody’s legacy of mercy continues today in ministries he either started or inspired. Key among them:

  • Samaritan House, which annually provides 127,000-plus nights of shelter, serves 455,000 meals and houses 2,250 people. Now run by Catholic Charities, Samaritan House began when Father Woody famously opened the doors of Holy Ghost Church to give warm refuge to hundreds of homeless people one bitterly cold winter. That action eventually led to present-day Samaritan House, which next month marks 30 years sheltering the homeless and achieving great success helping them to become self-sufficient.
  • Father Woody Programs, in which more than 100 college students annually serve inner-city youths, the homeless and the elderly around the city, riding to their destinations in a fleet of vans called Father Woody’s Wheels.
  • Father Woody’s Haven of Hope day shelter, which provides hot sit-down meals, private showers, laundry service, clothing and counseling to the homeless. Haven of Hope is currently adding a four-story wing to its facility, which will expand services to include classes for GED, employment readiness and money management; dental, eye and mental health clinics; and legal services.

“His work has not been diminished one iota,” said Lovey Shipp, who nicknamed the blunt talking but quick smiling Father Woody “the Master Pastor” when she served as his secretary the last five years of his life.

“He’s got an army of people following in his footsteps,” McCabe said.

All priests are welcome to concelebrate the Mass, which will be followed by a Reception of Remembrance.

“We’ll have a lot of his art on the walls and the video ‘In His Footsteps: The Legacy of Father Woody’ running,” McCabe said. “He had a message of love and was intent on getting it to everyone. We couldn’t help but find it contagious.”

Father Woody Memorial Mass

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10
Where: Holy Ghost Church, 1900 California St., Denver