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ACA funds Catholic schools, catechetical formation and public policy efforts
By Julie Filby
ARCHBISHOP’S CATHOLIC APPEAL
This year’s Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, which aims to raise $8.6 million to support some 40 ministries in the Denver Archdiocese, is approaching 15 percent of its goal. Three weeks into the campaign, close to $1.3 million has been pledged from nearly 2,700 donors.
Money raised by the appeal educates and inspires the faithful through ministries such as the Office of Catholic schools, Colorado Catholic Conference, and the Catholic Biblical and Catechetical schools.
Office of Catholic Schools [www.archden.org/schools]
The Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools is the largest private school system in the state. Superintendent Richard Thompson compared the vibrancy of Catholic school culture to a “rich tapestry” that combines different, yet essential, colors of threads into an intricate design.
“Our schools serve a tapestry of 10,000 students: Latino, African-American, Caucasian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American and multi-racial,” Thompson said. “Merit scholarship finalists and students from the Sudan who can’t speak English when entering school; star athletes and a girl playing basketball from a wheelchair.”
The system is comprised of 36 elementary schools and two high schools. Last year the high school graduation rate was 99 percent. Twenty-nine schools have a preschool or pre-kindergarten program, and six have stand-alone preschools.
“The rich tapestry of Catholic schools serves each individual student, a family of families, and one family under God,” Thompson said.
ACA funds personnel costs and other services provided by the Office of Catholic Schools to help the school ministry through policy promulgation, safety guidelines, financial review, legal advice and school accreditation.
“Rather than investing in one particular school, support of the ACA serves all of our schools,” Thompson said.
Colorado Catholic Conference [www.cocatholicconference.org]
The Colorado Catholic Conference is the public policy and lobbying arm of the three Colorado dioceses. They work with other religious and secular groups to promote the common good in the areas of education, health, housing, life issues, employment and other basic needs.
“This past session was full of highlights,” said director Jennifer Kraska describing the legislative session that ended May 11. “The most important highlight was the defeat of civil-union legislation in Colorado. This was important given that the trend was to support civil unions—both Illinois and Hawaii recently enacted civil unions legislation in their states.”
The conference has now started planning for the next session.
“We’ll prepare for the issues that we’re likely to encounter next year,” Kraska said. “We’ll also be preparing for an election year in 2012.”
The CCC relies on support from the ACA.
“We couldn’t do the work we do without it,” she said. “The work the CCC does is important to ensure that the voice of Catholics is heard in the legislative process.”
For more information visit www.cocatholicconference.org, call 303-894-8808 or become a fan on Facebook.
Catholic Biblical School and Catechetical School [www.sjvdenver.edu]
The archdiocese’s Catholic Biblical School and Catechetical School are dedicated to educating lay men and women.
The Biblical School is a four-year program covering every book of the Bible. There are 680 students enrolled, and on May 20, 136 will graduate, representing 34 parishes and two Christian communities. This brings the total number of graduates in their 28-year history to 2,380.
There are 124 students enrolled in the two-year Catechetical School, the largest enrollment in school history, up 69 from last year. Through the program “Pillars: A Journey through the Catechism,” participants study the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“It’s pretty incredible to think that over 800 adults in northern Colorado are freely taking classes on Scripture and Church teaching on a weekly basis,” said Ben Akers, director of the Biblical and Catechetical schools. “That this many people are seeking to know God through his Word is just one sign among many of the prophesied ‘new springtime of faith.’”
One example is Daniel Jajczyk, a recent graduate of the Biblical School, who is now attending the Catechetical School. Jajczyk, a husband of 30 years and father of four grown sons, is retired from the Air Force and now works in security at Aurora’s Overland High School and coaches football.
Understanding Scripture has brought clarity to his life.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that God is creating me to be a better father, a better husband, and a better man of God in my daily life,” said Jajczyk, a parishioner at Our Lady of Loreto in Foxfield. “(Biblical School) has given me clarity … my life’s ministry is mentoring to other men, that’s what God has me doing. Through Scripture, this has all happened.”
Jajczyk works in youth prison ministry through Ridge View Academy’s Rite of Passage, volunteers at Denver’s St. Francis Center homeless shelter, facilitates a Great Adventure Bible Study at Our Lady of Loreto, and helps with the parish’s Father’s Challenge Weekend and religious education for young men.
“The Church has become so alive for me,” he said “My life is now part of my faith, instead of my faith being part of my life.”
He feels indebted to the Catholic Biblical School and its instructors.
“It’s been such a loving journey,” he said. “It’s transformed me from the inside-out—and I feel like I’m on a beautiful journey of constant conversion.”
For information on both schools, visit www.sjvdenver.edu or call 303-715-3195.
There are three ways to donate to the ACA: return the pledge card received in the mail, complete a pledge card in the pew at weekend Mass, or use the pledge card on the back page of the May 18, 2011 issue of the Denver Catholic Register. Learn more about the ACA at www.archden.org/archbishopscatholicappeal.
“This year, perhaps like no other year, everyone is asked to be as generous as possible,” said Todd Smith, director of annual giving. “Always remember that our Lord will not be outdone in generosity.”