ACA: serving the poor, vulnerable
By Nissa LaPoint
2012 Archbishop's Catholic Appeal
The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal is more than a time to give to Christ’s Church, but an opportunity to support those ministries that protect the poor and most vulnerable in the community.
Donors make possible the day-to-day help archdiocesan ministries offer. The annual ACA campaign supports nearly 40 ministries including the Child and Youth Protection Office, the Office of Hispanic Ministry, and the Respect Life Office.
Since May, the Denver Archdiocese has received $4.8 million from the 2012 appeal, which will end in March 2013. Last year the appeal drew more than $7.9 million.
As donations to the appeal continue to rise, three directors of archdiocesan ministries shared information about the latest initiatives and programs offered through their offices.
Child and Youth Protection Office
New this year for the Child and Youth Protection Office is an online course, which debuted this year for faithful across the archdiocese.
“I think it’s a way to make sure people don’t forget the highlights of the classroom training while making it as convenient as possible,” said office director Chris Pond.
Those interested may contact their parish for information about taking the course.
Archdiocesan employees, volunteers and all those who work with children are required to take the Safe Environment Training class to educate and raise awareness about child abuse and how to create safe environments for youths. Between July 2011 and June 2012, nearly 34,000 staff, children, clergy and volunteers in the archdiocese received this training.
The online course is designed for those who took the initial classroom course—typically completed at a parish—five years ago and are required to review the material.
In addition to the training, the Child and Youth Protection ministry is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the American bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, acting as the archbishop’s liaison to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and providing victim assistance.
“My office helps victims get into therapy,” Pond said.
This year staff will begin to update its code of conduct, which guides the office and its ministry.
Office of Hispanic Ministry
Last year, some 30,000 people in the Denver Archdiocese were served by this ministry, according to an annual report.
The ministry’s initiatives and programs are broad and bold—they include citizenship and English classes, evangelization, retreats, Hispanic youth ministry, prison ministry and job skills. The majority are offered through Centro San Juan Diego in Denver, the archdiocese’s Hispanic institute for pastoral and family services.
In looking for ways to integrate Hispanics through empowerment, education and leadership, the ministry is also researching ways to increase Hispanic enrollment at Catholic schools, said director Luis Soto. The details of this initiative are still in progress.
The ministry aids the state’s Hispanic population, estimated at 20 percent in 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Respect Life Office
The mission of the Respect Life ministry is to honor the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
Director Lynn Grandon, who is also executive director of the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center, has expanded the ministry’s educational initiatives by filling her calendar with visits and presentations about life issues from grade schools and high schools to parishes and college campuses.
The depth and knowledge of the Church’s teachings on the dignity of human life was the reason for Grandon’s own conversion. Now she’s focused on sharing her passion and medical background with the faithful, she said.
“We’re expanding all of our educational initiatives because those have proven so popular,” she said.
Age-appropriate discussions on the godly approach to embracing femininity are offered for fifth-grade girls and their mothers.
“The moms are so grateful because often they say ‘I don’t know how to approach this subject with my daughters,’” Grandon said.
Other life presentations include embryology, early human development, and, for adults, the topics of abortion and contraception, and its social and environmental impacts. For seniors, Grandon will present information on making moral end-of-life decisions.
The ministry also works to promulgate and defend the Church’s teachings on life by acting as a resource for life issues, collaborating with parishes, schools and health institutions, training pastoral leaders, supporting those with special needs, and aiding pro-life ministries in Denver like the Gabriel House and Project Rachel.