Young adults invited to service opportunity at Steubenville of the Rockies

Moira Cullings

The Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries is seeking young adults for a volunteer opportunity during the annual Steubenville of the Rockies conference this June.

“This is a way to invite young adults into a greater leadership role in the Church and contrast the whole consumer attitude with giving,” said Mary McGeehan, Young Adult Ministry Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver.

“We want you here, we want you to serve with us,” she said. “You’re invited to still participate and serve, just in a different way as you mature in your faith.”

The volunteer group, called Mercy Squad, will participate in a pre-conference retreat from June 19-21, and then take on their volunteer tasks during the conference from June 21-23.

The pre-conference retreat will include opportunities for adoration, confession and reflections led by Father Ryan O’Neill, Vocations Director for the archdiocese. The group’s tasks during the conference include welcoming retreatants, organizing registration packets, helping during meals and guiding groups as they walk to events.

The Mercy Squad is ideal for college students, as well as young adults who have summers off or are able to take off work.

Michelle Peters, Director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries for the archdiocese, explained the importance of giving young adults opportunities designed specifically for them.

“It is important that they are given the opportunity to exercise the gifts that they have been given,” she said. “Young adults often look at different parishes and groups before finding one that they settle in.

“By offering the young adults leadership roles in different areas, they will feel a part of the community and will be more active.”

Inspired by Mother Teresa and St. Therese of Lisieux, the Mercy Squad will be in charge of “little acts that make a big difference in helping people feel welcomed and loved,” said McGeehan.

“We’re really wanting to make Mercy Squad a cohort that can emphasize hospitality and love and gift of presence,” she said.

The group will also be “prayer warriors” for the retreatants “through intercessory prayer during adoration or while they’re in the long line for confession,” McGeehan added.

“And having hallway guides that not only are directing them, but also praying and interceding for them in ways the participants might not even realize.”

Peters emphasized the impact those actions can have.

“The success of a conference requires a lot of details — many of which go unnoticed but would be greatly missed if they weren’t there,” she said.

“Steubenville of the Rockies offers our high school students an opportunity to encounter Christ, which can lead to lifelong conversions. The young adults serving at the conference will be helping these high school students have the opportunity to experience a deeper relationship with Christ.”

McGeehan hopes the young adults who join the Mercy Squad will inspire the conference attendees to deepen their faith even more.

“You can be loving God at Steubenville, but to see people a little bit older than you who are still committed to their faith and living it out so much so that they want to do menial tasks and give up their time for them,” she said.

“It’s a good witness of what faith looks like beyond an emotional experience or a spiritual high.”

To apply for the Mercy Squad, visit archden.org/eflm/conferences-retreats/steubenville.

COMING UP: Denver’s first Catholic classical high school opens under patronage of Our Lady of Victory

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Nearly half a millennium ago, thousands of Catholics heeded Pope Pius V’s call to pray the Rosary requesting Our Lady’s intercession for the deliverance of Europe from Turkish invasion.

In a miraculous triumph, at what came to be known as the “Battle of Lepanto,” the outnumbered Christian “Holy League” overcame the Turkish forces, winning Our Lady of the Rosary a new advocation: Our Lady of Victory.

Today, Denver’s new and first Catholic classical high school has chosen Our Lady of Victory as its patroness, with the mission of developing the whole person and forming students who are holy, well-educated and prepared to engage the present culture and contribute to society.

Our Lady of Victory High School is part of the Chesterton Schools Network, which encourages parent-led Catholic schools across the nation, inspired by the life and work of G.K. Chesterton, who wrote a poem about the victory at Lepanto.

Although the school is not an archdiocesan high school, it has been officially recognized by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila as a Catholic school. This fall’s inaugural 9th grade class will launch at the St. Louis Parish School building in Denver with nearly 20 students.

“Chesterton’s model of joyful Catholicism draws upon the classical tradition but is very evangelical: It engages the culture with a joyful approach to being Catholic… rather than a reactionary one,” said Dr. R. Jared Staudt, President of the school, Director of Formation at the Archdiocese of Denver and Visiting Associate Professor at the Augustine Institute. “We want to form saints to go out and do great things for the Lord within our culture.”

The classical education approach highlights the trivium (logic, grammar and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy).

“We emphasize Socratic dialogue as well as the trivium: how to read texts carefully and understand them through grammar, how to think about them in a coherent manner through logic, and then how to express yourself well in writing and speech through rhetoric; but also the quadrivium: How do we understand the logical order and beauty of the universe?” Dr. Staudt explained.

The benefits of this type of education are many, he assured.

“It’s not just a practical output, but about forming strong dispositions of thinking, of being able to evaluate things, being able to form a plan of action for your life that will translate into being successful in the future.

“It’s about becoming the person that God wants us to become… We emphasize the fundamental things that shape who we are, so that, secondarily, we are also good at doing things,” Dr. Staudt said.

Part of what makes this goal possible is the communion between faith and reason. Students begin the school day with daily Mass; read Homer, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dostoevsky, G.K. Chesterton, etc.; and study the Bible and the Catechism. They participate in a curriculum where history, philosophy, literature and theology are “braided together,” as their website states.

Part of what makes it unique is also its approach to the fine arts and to mathematics and science.

“We emphasize the fine arts because we want the students to be engaged with beauty and wonder… We want to humanize them, to make them more fully alive,” Dr. Staudt said.

“I would say we also approach math and science from that perspective. We take math and science very seriously, but not as something dry and textbook based, but something that is engaging the beauty, the logic, the wonder of the universe, and the fact that we can logically understand [it] because it is itself something that is a creative work of a mind, of God’s mind, and his beauty is impressed within it.”

As part of this approach, the school has implemented in its unique formation a lot of time in the outdoors, beginning the year with a three-day backpacking trip with the students and ending with a whitewater rafting trip.
The school also plans on having retreats throughout the year, attending and hosting fine arts events and providing service opportunities for its students.

“I think that’s truly part of what makes us unique, that we want to develop the whole person: body, mind and soul,” Dr. Staudt explained.

“It’s about becoming the person that God wants us to become… We emphasize the fundamental things that shape who we are, so that, secondarily, we are also good at doing things.”

The seed for the foundations of the school began with the desire of a group of Denver Catholic parents for a holistic, classical formation for their children, also motived by the need for a Catholic high school in the South Denver metro area.

Hoping to open a Catholic classical high school for their children in the future, six dads organized a series of monthly talks titled “The First Educators” at St. Mary Parish in Littleton from September to November 2018 as a first step to help in this direction.

Little did they know that their dream would become reality only a few months later, with the help of Dr. Staudt, the Chesterton Schools Network and the support of other parents around the archdiocese.

With six experienced teachers on board, the mission-driven school is set to begin forming students in the classical tradition.

“We want them to be holy. I would say that is our biggest overarching goal, that we want to form saints in the sense that they are thinking people who are well-educated and well prepared to engage the world and make a contribution in society – but [in a way] that holiness integrates everything else that we do,” Dr. Staudt concluded.

For more information, visit ourladyofvictorydenver.com.