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Vital marriage, evangelization ministries supported by Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal
By Julie Filby
ARCHBISHOP’S CATHOLIC APPEAL
For information or to donate
RELATED COVERAGE OF APPEAL
Last weekend the 2011 Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal was announced at parishes. This weekend parishioners will be asked to commit to the annual fundraising campaign by completing a commitment card at Mass or returning the card received in the mail.
Money raised by the ACA builds up the body of Christ in northern Colorado by supporting some 40 ministries in the Denver Archdiocese, including the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, and the Office of Marriage and Family Life.
The Office of Evangelization and Catechesis maintains two locations—Denver and Longmont—to provide support, training and resources that help parishes educate and evangelize their communities.
“The Church essentially exists for the sake of others: to evangelize the world and catechize the faithful,” said James Cavanagh, director for Denver metro-area parishes. “There is a real hunger for learning the faith.”
The ministry trains parish staff and catechists; assists with formation and other on-site programs; and provides classes, in English and Spanish, covering topics such as catechism, the mystery of human suffering, Vatican II, other religions, the Bible, and the Mass. This year they added a class on the new translation of the Roman Missal to be implemented the first Sunday of Advent.
“A great deal of effort this coming year will focus on helping parishes prepare for the new Roman Missal,” said Don Schneider, director for northern, Eastern Plains and Western Slope parishes. “This is a marvelous opportunity for all of us to renew and deepen our appreciation of the Mass as we reflect on the wording changes, and the meaning behind the changes.”
For more information on the classes available, call 303-715-3260.
Another way the ministry aims to nourish the faithful is “Breaking Open the Word.” Each week Cavanagh provides reflections on readings for the upcoming Sunday in a column syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register (see Page 4 or click here).
Their biggest, and most visible, event is the Living the Catholic Faith Conference each spring.
“We had the biggest turnout ever this year with more than 3,500 people attending,’” said Cavanagh
For 15 years, the office has organized the Eastern Plains Harvest Gathering for catechetical leaders and catechists from parishes on the Eastern Plains.
In the future Cavanagh hopes to bring “Catholics Come Home” to the archdiocese.
“This evangelistic initiative uses inspiring TV ads to reach fallen away Catholics and others,” he said. “And it invites them to ‘come home’ to the Church.”
ACA funding is critical to the Church’s evangelization efforts.
“The ACA is important because … parishes naturally look to the diocese for assistance,” said Schneider. “Especially when staff is limited; economic times are difficult, as they have been; and when parishes struggle with budgets.
“Giving to the ACA is one way every parishioner can share in evangelizing and catechizing beyond their local parish.”
The Office of Marriage and Family Life promotes an authentic, Catholic vision of marriage, human sexuality and family life by offering marriage preparation, marriage enrichment, natural family planning and an annual Anniversary Mass.
“The Church’s role is terribly important in supporting marriage and family life,” said director Phil Webb. “Our Church proclaims that Christian marriage is a specific ‘training ground’ for holiness.”
Webb cited research by Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow that showed the most powerful force diminishing religious participation is the nation’s recent retreat from marriage.
“Wuthnow notes that because growing numbers of young adults are postponing or avoiding marriage and childbearing, they’re also less likely to end up in church on Sunday,” said Webb. “Without spiritual nourishment, marriages can flounder.”
Each year some 700 couples attend the archdiocese’s day-long marriage preparation workshop “God’s Plan for a Joy Filled Marriage,” offered in both English and Spanish. The annual Anniversary Mass for couples celebrating 25, 50 or 50-plus years of marriage is celebrated with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., every fall. This year’s Mass is scheduled for Oct. 1; to sign up call 303-715-3259.
Along with the dioceses of Colorado Springs and Pueblo, the office plans the annual Rocky Mountain Catholic Men’s Conference which draws hundreds (see story on this year’s conference on Page 3).
“Because of the ACA we can continue the long, hard work of strengthening marriage in the Archdiocese of Denver and beyond,” said Webb. “The ACA is a great gift.”
The 2011 ACA campaign themed “…God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7) aims to raise $8.6 million. Donations are tax deductible.