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.”



COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit: https://www.cocatholicconference.org/2021-legislative-bills-analysis/  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 

HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.