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Annual appeal helps to fund youth evangelization and educational efforts


The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) is the primary source of funding for many offices, parishes, and ministries from the Archdiocese of Denver. It benefits and provides services to not only the Archdiocese of Denver, but our community as a whole.

Thanks to the generous support from donors to the ACA, ministries such as the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries are able to stay active, especially during these times of crisis, and keep serving our community.

One of the missions of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries is to bring young people into an encounter with Jesus in real and powerful ways. Hence, the office provides a wide range of events, training, and support through youth ministries and resources for parishes and parents, that wouldn’t be possible without the contributions from the ACA.

“The contributions to the ACA play an important role in all the ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver, as it allows us to continue our mission to evangelize through formation, programs and companionship, and support parishes, ministries and movements from the diocese,” said Alejandra Bravo, Associate Director of Hispanic Evangelization.

Bravo also emphasized that even though, for now, they haven’t been able to meet in person with groups and movements due to the coronavirus pandemic, they continue to work from home to reach out to youths and young adults during these difficult times.

“We continue to provide our services through videoconferences, calls, messages, and virtual projects. But this continuous support is only possible thanks to the ACA. No matter how big a contribution is, it makes a difference,” she added.

Large youth conferences such as Steubenville of the Rockies, which serves over 2,500 high school students, National Catholic Youth Conference with over 20,000 young attendees every year, the Tutus Tuus program, Mountain Madness (with over 1,000 middle school students a year), and many more are carried out thanks to the annual appeal.

“We were also able to develop and publish a first of its kind sacrament preparation curriculum for the Restored Order of the Sacraments of Initiation. This curriculum, which is both free to parishes digitally and available in print for purchase is used by over half of the parishes in the Archdiocese and is also used in several other dioceses across the country,” said Scott Elmer, Executive Director of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries.

Elmer also highlighted how critical the ACA is when it comes to offering annual scholarships to train facilitators of Natural Family Planning.

“We are blessed to have four methods of NFP available to the faithful and facilitators who offer classes in English, Spanish and Vietnamese” Elmer said. “While training is incredibly valuable, it is also very expensive, and the ACA helps tremendously to make the training affordable to the people who wish to serve in this area.”

The Office of Catholic Schools helps form students as disciples of Christ, in such a way that academics are not separate from spirituality.

One of the largest ministries supported by the contributions of the ACA is the Office of Catholic Schools. The Office of Catholic Schools provides vision, direction, and supervision to 37 Archdiocesan Catholic school communities in order to assist them in the achievement of their mission to proclaim Christ and form authentic disciples.

“We are aiming to help all of our schools align all practices towards discipleship, such that academics are not separate from spirituality, not is a student’s formation bound to going to Mass, rather, that what students study point them to the truth of God’s work in history, the human story in responding to God and each other in literature, the truths of the ordered universe in math and science, and beauty in art and music,” said Abriana Chilelli, Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the Office of Catholic Schools.

Due to the coronavirus spread and the statewide orders to close schools and stay home, the Office of Catholic Schools had to adapt to a new reality and put into effect an emergency distance learning plan in a short period of time.

“We trust God invited all of us to this moment in time to draw ever closer to Him, to continue to assist parents in the formation of their children, and to become holy through offering Him our individual and collective best efforts in this adapted work,” Chilelli said.

The Office of Catholic Schools has worked hard behind the scenes to ensure each school is equipped to offer a distance learning experience toward the student’s formation of the mind, body, soul and emotions.

“Our distance learning opportunities aim to form students in truth, such that all children in our schools continue to grow in the intellectual, moral, and spiritual habits needed to be faithful and virtuous disciples of Jesus Christ,” Chilelli concluded. 

Donations to the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal make an impact across the Archdiocese of Denver by supporting these and many more offices and ministries. Your donation makes all the difference in the future of the Church here in northern Colorado and helps to form our next generation of Catholic leaders.

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COMING UP: Thomas Fitzsimons: The unsung Catholic Founding Father 

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As our nation celebrates the day of its independence and subsequent founding as a country on July 4, a look back some lesser-knowCatholic history of this historic event seems warranted.  

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin: these are names every American knows. Pull out your wallet and you’ll likely see at least one of their faces on the money you carry aroundAnd while this nation was founded on principles rooted in Christianity, none of these men were Catholic. In fact, of the men history calls the Founding Fathers of America, only two were. 

Many may already be familiar with Founding Father Charles Carroll, a Catholic and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and whose brother John was the first Catholic bishop assigned to what would become the United States. However, Carroll was not the only Catholic who played a role in the founding of our country. The other was Thomas Fitzsimons, a name that is not mentioned much (if at all) in U.S. history classes but deserves to be recognized nonetheless.  

The unwieldy named Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, published in 1887, paints a vivid picture of Fitzsimons and the way his faith informed his character. While the other Founding Fathers were meeting and deliberating about the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons joined the Continental Army anfought on the frontlines against the British army. 

Captain Fitzsimons commanded his company of militia until 1778, when France entered the war. British troops withdrew from Pennsylvania and began to focus on the southern states. It was at this time that Fitzsimons became more involved in politics at the state level. In 1782, he became a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1786, he was elected as a Pennsylvania state legislator and served for three terms until 1789. In 1787, he was selected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Congress, where the United States Constitution was written and ratified. He, along with Daniel Carroll, were the only two Catholics to sign to Constitution. 

Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1741, not much else is known about Fitzsimons’ family. He had three brothers – Nicholas, Andrew and John – and one sister, Ann. He and his family immigrated to America as early as 1760, where they became residents of Philadelphia. It was here that Fitzsimons would stake his claim as a businessman and politician. 

In 1763, Fitzsimons married Catharine Meade, whose brother, George Meade, would later go into business with Fitzsimons and build one of the most successful commercial trade houses in Philadelphia. Throughout his life, Fitzsimons was in close correspondence with Bishop John Carrollthese letters revealed insights into the Catholic Founding Father’s personal life. In a letter to Bishop Carroll in 1808, Fitzsimons wrote of being married to Catharine for 45 years. Additionally, local baptismal records show that he and Catharine stood as sponsors at the baptisms of three of Meade’s children. 

In 1774, Fitzsimons began his first foray into politics when he was elected as one of 13 Provincial Deputies who were given authority to call a general meeting of the citizens. It is believed he was the first Catholic to have ever held public office in the budding United States. Even so, anti-Catholic bigotry was common at the time and did exist within some of his fellow statesmen, such as John Adams, who once said in an address to the people of Great Britain that the Catholic faith was “a religion that has deluged your island in blood and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.” 

Fitzsimons’ first stint in public office was brief, only lasting from May to July, but it was a foreshadowing his future involvement in state affairs. As the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Fitzsimons formed a company of soldiers to fight against the British army. He was assigned to the Third Battalion under Col. Cadwalader and Lieut. Col. John Nixon, who was the grandson of a Catholic. Behind the scenes, as George Washington and the like organized committees and framed what would become the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons ascended to the rank of Captain and continued to serve his country as a soldier and patriot.

In addition to his tenure as a commanding officer and politician, Fitzsimons also found success in other ventures. In 1781, he helped found the Bank of North America, the United States’ first de facto central bank, and served as its director until 1803. The latter years of his life were spent primarily in private business, but he maintained a consistent interest in public affairs; even Fitzsimons wasn’t exempt from the old adage, “once a politician, always a politician.” 

Through all of these endeavors, and even after befalling troubled financial times in the early 1800s, Fitzsimons remained a diligent philanthropist. He gave immense support to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia and was invested in the improvement of public education in the commonwealth. As one of his contemporaries wrote after his death in 1811, “he died in the esteem, affection and gratitude of all classes of his fellow citizens.” 

Fitzsimons was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia, which is now part of Independence National Historical Park. His name may not be a household one like Washington or Jefferson, but Fitzsimons can be remembered as something of an unsung Founding Father of the United Statesa man whose life of quiet faith, humble service and admirable patriotism exemplifies the values that this country was founded upon in a simple yet profound way.