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: Repenting and renewing our role as shepherds

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Jesus tells the disciples in St. John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” contrasting his goodness with the thieves who come only to steal and destroy.  This past week my fellow U.S. bishops and I sought to act as good shepherds by approving three measures to increase our vigilance and prevention of the evil of sexual abuse by bishops, shepherds who have betrayed the flock entrusted to them.

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day, which should remind biological and spiritual fathers of their great responsibility of protecting and raising up new life. This mission is further emphasized by the Rite for the Ordination of a Bishop, which says, “In the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.” This is the model for all bishops.

But the scandals of Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield and others have made it clear that our vigilance has not been adequate. To quote from the just-issued “Affirming Our Episcopal Commitment” statement, “We, the bishops of the United States, have heard the anger expressed by so many within and outside of the Church over these failures.  The anger is justified; it has humbled us, prompting us into self-examination, repentance, and a desire to do better.” This sentiment was clear in my interactions with my fellow bishops in Baltimore this past week.

As evidence of our commitment, we overwhelmingly passed a set of directives for the bishops’ conference to implement Pope Francis’ Vos estis lux mundi document on handling abuse by priests and bishops. These directives include the creation by May 31, 2020 of a third-party phone and online system that receives reports of potential violations by bishops, the establishment of a protocol in which the Holy See designates and authorizes metropolitan archbishops to investigate cases of alleged abuse by bishops, and the expectation that the investigating bishop involve lay experts in assisting with these inquiries. For any investigations that falls under my jurisdiction, I will ensure that lay experts are involved, as I’ve done throughout my time as a bishop. As the new directives indicate, I will also appoint a lay person to receive complaints from the third-party reporting system, publicize how to make reports, ascertain the credibility of reports and gather any additional information necessary for an investigation to commence.

I also want to highlight that the bishops overwhelmingly approved protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons and that we adopted a code of conduct for bishops, which explicitly states that the Dallas Charter will now include bishops.

All these measures are in addition to those we have been enforcing since 2002 in relation to preventing sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Archdiocese of Denver has a strong track record of actively working to protect children, including annual audits, background checks of employees and clergy, and a code of conduct that previous bishops and I have all signed, and a robust training program aimed at fostering safe environments for children. The effectiveness of these measures over the past 20 years has made us a model for other institutions seeking to combat abuse.

Pope Francis rightly noted in a January 2019 personal letter to the U.S. bishops that the consequences of our failures cannot be fixed by being administrators of new programs or committees.  They can only be resolved by humility, listening, self-examination and conversion.

My brother bishops and I hope that by obeying the Word of God, seeking the will of the Father and embracing what the Church expects of us, we will imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Read more

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi can be read at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html

The USCCB Directives implementing Vos estis can be read at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/2019-june-meeting/upload/usccb-modified-amended-directives-2019-06.pdf

Reach out

Christi Sullivan serves as the Protection Specialist for the Office of Child and Youth Protection and can be reached at 303-715-3241 or Christi.Sullivan@archden.org.

Victims of abuse can reach out to Dr. Jim Langley, the Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 720-239-2832 or Victim.Assistance@ArchDen.org.