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Ways Year of Faith rejuvenated local Church

When called on to open the doors of faith over the last year, parishes and ministries throughout the Denver Archdiocese flung them wide—to help people find ways to renew or return to the faith.

“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in his 2011 apostolic letter Porta Fidei, “ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.”

With that letter, the former pontiff declared a special Year of Faith that began Oct. 11, 2012—the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church—and runs about two more weeks, ending Nov. 24, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

At 10:30 a.m. Nov. 24 Archbishop Samuel Aquila will celebrate a closing Mass for the Year of Faith at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver. At the opening Mass Oct. 11 last year, Archbishop Aquila told the congregation each person has a role to play in evangelizing the world.

“Jesus has sent each and every one of us into the world today at this point in history,” he said. “Every one of us here has been willed by the Father to live in these times, and we have been given the challenge by the Holy Father to proclaim Christ.”

Some ways the challenge to evangelize was put into action in the archdiocese and individual parishes were: studies of the catechism, Vatican II documents, Scripture and papal documents; retreats, seminars, conferences, missionary activities and pilgrimages.

The archbishop designated eight pilgrimage sites where the faithful could earn a plenary indulgence: the Cathedral Basilica in Denver, Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Our Lady of Loreto in Foxfield, Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne, Spirit of Christ in Arvada, St. Francis of Assisi in Longmont, St. Helena in Fort Morgan and St. Michael in Craig.

To inspire Colorado Catholics during Lent and Easter, the Denver Catholic Register announced a Year of Faith Pilgrim Passport. Using the passport, pilgrims recorded their movement through the sites from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost Sunday; virtually “stamped” them by answering a unique question at each site, then submitted passports to the Register.

In total, 204 groups—who visited at least six sites—submitted passports and were recognized in print in the June 19 Register. One hundred nine of these groups visited all eight sites. They also received a certificate signed by Archbishop Aquila and a blessed Year of Faith commemorative lapel pin.

“The Holy Spirit was with us. We did feel that,” Tim Urban said of his family’s pilgrimage in an April 3 Register story. “It felt good and blessed.”

The Urbans were the first pilgrims to visit all eight sites, completing the journey in one 20-hour day. They received a special blessing from Archbishop Aquila at his office May 29.

To take the good news out to the people during the Year of Faith, more than 100 members of the Neocatechumenal Way announced the Gospel via loudspeaker at 12 public locations in Colorado and Wyoming through “The Great Mission.”

For six consecutive Sundays following Easter, teams of at least 10 people—married couples, young adults, seminarians and a priest—placed themselves in areas of high foot traffic in Denver, Boulder, Greeley, Fort Collins and other cities, preached from a stage, and invited passersby to sit and join them.

“For people who are far away from the Church, what’s important today is to announce the love and mercy of God,” said Rose Mary McLeod, who with her husband Don, leads the Way, a parish-based catechumenate. “More than anything else this is what they need to hear… everybody needs to learn how much God loves them and how merciful he is, that he forgives all our sins.”

The area teams were among an estimated 10,000 teams worldwide, according to McLeod.

Thousands were touched by the messages, she said. People listened intently as they preached near restaurants with outdoor dining, by college campuses, at trailer parks and otherwise in public venues.

Through The Great Mission, three new Neocatechumenal Way communities were started in Colorado: in Greeley, Denver and Boulder.

“I’m convinced this is something the Church has to do,” she said. “The pope is giving us a lot of encouragement.”

McLeod was referring to Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s successor, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Year of Faith since Benedict’s resignation last February.

“We’ll see what he’ll do next,” she pondered. “Maybe Pope Francis will announce a Year of Hope and a Year of Charity.”

 

 

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