Priestly, diaconal vocations supported via ACA
By Julie Filby
Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal
Starting this weekend, the 2011 Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) will be promoted at parishes through pulpit announcements, bulletin notices and other means of communication.
The annual fundraising appeal supports some 40 ministries in the Denver Archdiocese including the formation and vocation of priests and deacons in northern Colorado by funding St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, and St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons. Last year more than $1.4 million in ACA funds were allocated to the seminaries.
There are currently 127 men studying at St. John Vianney Seminary—including 27 seminarians from 18 different countries at Redemptoris Mater—a missionary seminary under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Archbishop Chaput may retain these missionary priests in the archdiocese or send them to another diocese, anywhere in the world.
Seventy-eight seminarians are studying to serve the Denver Archdiocese. On May 21, seven men will be ordained to the priesthood.
“The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, as it is supporting the seminaries, shows the great love of the Catholic people for priests and seminarians—we’ve witnessed this love many times through the prayer and economic support of the parishes,” said Father Florián Martín-Calama, rector of Redemptoris Mater.
“We want to manifest our deep gratitude for their help, prayers and love. We are grateful that these men, as they become priests, will help them to grow in love and communion with Jesus Christ and the Church.”
The diaconate program currently has 51 men studying to serve as permanent deacons. Ten men will be ordained in June; eight will serve the Denver Archdiocese.
“The ACA enables deacons in this archdiocese to be arguably the finest and most dedicated group of deacons in the United States,” said Deacon Joe Donohoe, director of personnel for the archdiocese’s 186 deacons. “Since deacons typically don’t get paid for their ministries, most of what the ACA provides to the diaconate is indirect support to their host of ministries including work with migrants, Hispanics, the sick and elderly; and service in pro-life efforts and prison ministry.”
The ACA provides resources, materials and people to support, train, coordinate and organize the diaconate program.
“Like their brother priests, deacons provide the Catholic community with a tremendous efficiency for the dollars allocated through ACA,” said Deacon Donohoe. “Without these important resources the diaconate would be hard-pressed to fulfill their vocational ministries.”
During his formation 12 years ago, Deacon Steve Vallero of St. Louis Parish in Louisville, felt a call to prison and jail ministry.
“Prison ministry is important because Jesus calls us, all Christians, to visit the imprisoned (Mt 25:35-40),” he said. “As a part of our mission, we proclaim the good news to all people, including the incarcerated. Generally speaking this captive audience is very receptive and hungry for the Lord … it’s a privilege to bring light, hope and mercy into chaotic situations and perhaps help start the process of conversion.”
Along with 15 deacons, 50 lay volunteers and several priests, including director Father Bill Kraus, O.F.M. Cap., Deacon Vallero serves the incarcerated in all five Colorado Department of Corrections prisons in the archdiocese, plus 12 county jails, five juvenile detention centers and two private prisons.
Prison ministers provide Masses, Communion and Liturgy of the Word services, catecheses and preparation for the sacrament of reconciliation; usually on a weekly basis. In addition, former Anglican minister Deacon Dennis Garrou, who is studying for the priesthood and is chaplain at Jefferson County Detention Center, provides RCIA formation (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Deacon Vallero recently prepared a female inmate for the sacrament of confirmation through six months of rigorous classes.
“Meeting with (inmates) face-to-face is really no different than meeting someone at a parish or at your workplace,” Deacon Vallero said. “There is brokenness everywhere and Jesus is the only one who can help us through our brokenness. His mercy and compassion is for all.”
For more information about prison ministry, contact Deacon Vallero at 303-722-4687.
The 2011 ACA campaign themed “…God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7) aims to raise $8.6 million. Parishioners can pledge by completing a commitment card at Mass or by returning the pledge card that arrived in the mail. ACA gifts are tax deductible, and can be made in a lump sum or payments over several months.
Checks, money orders or credit cards are accepted.