Call to Charity

by Larry Smith

I believe that Catholic Charities has a two-fold responsibility – to serve those who have a need to receive, and those who have a need to give. I pray that you will join me in this amazing and rewarding adventure.

Larry Smith, CEO
Catholic Charities of Denver

 

Ride the Rockies: an encounter with courage

Date 06.15.15

DayTwo

Eighteen miles into Day Two of Ride the Rockies and we met two men with real courage: Marine veterans doing the ride with the Adaptive Sports Center. Remember to check out ccdenver.com/rtr. ‪#‎ccmercy‬

Getting ready to ride to the rescue of the homeless

Date 06.13.15

LetTheRideBegin

Hello my brothers and sisters,

We are on the way to Grand Junction for the start of Ride the Rockies: 465 miles and 40,000 feet gain in elevation over seven days through the mountains of Colorado.

We ride to raise money for those less fortunate than us, the homeless men, women and children of Northern Colorado. One hundred percent of the money we raise goes to operate the homeless shelters of Catholic Charities of Northern Colorado: Samaritan House in Denver, The Mission in Ft. Collin, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley; and Father Ed Judy House in Denver. These shelters help people regain their self-respect, dignity and self-reliance.

We are at 75% of our goal of $100,000. Please help us reach our goal and help those who are looking for a hand up. To those of you who have already given so generously, THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.

Remember it is never too late. We start the ride Sunday, June 14, and ride for seven days until Saturday, June 20.

You can donate RIGHT NOW at http://www.ccdenver.org/rtr.

Look for updates here, on Twitter and on our Facebook page. We'll be using the hashtag #ccmercy.

God Bless,

Larry Smith

Help the homeless during Ride the Rockies

Date 04.16.15

Help the homeless during Ride the Rockies

(Larry's column appeared in the Apr. 16 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

For the fifth consecutive year, Team Samaritan House will be part of Ride the Rockies, which this year starts in Grand Junction on June 13 and ends June 20 in Westcliffe.

We have 19 riders registered on the team—16 men and three women—with a goal of raising $5,000 a piece for Catholic Charities homeless shelters in northern Colorado. That includes Samaritan House and Father Ed Judy House in Denver, The Mission in Fort Collins and the Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley.

When you get on a bike to ride 465 miles to raise money for the poor, every pedal that you push reminds you of a plight much worse than your own. It puts you in a position to really appreciate how hard it must be to live as a homeless person, without income, without a place to live.

I encourage you to become part of the team. Here’s how. Go to ccdenver.org/rtr to see the route and pick a rider to support. We’ll be posting updates there, and on social media sites throughout the week of the race. Please consider a donation of $465, one dollar for every mile. Any amount donated is appreciated and 100 percent of the money donated goes to provide shelter and to help homeless people regain their sense of dignity and self-reliance.

This is one of our major fundraising efforts for our homeless shelters and the money raised goes far. Every $1.60 raised allows us to provide a meal to a person in need. Last year, about 430,000 meals were served through Catholic Charities shelters.

It’s humbling for the Team Samaritan House riders to know that while we’re experiencing God’s beauty and creation—albeit from a very sore saddle and aching legs—we’re doing it for people living a life on the streets that many of us can’t comprehend. Ride the Rockies allows us to put 100 percent of our mental and physical effort to raising money for our homeless shelters and to provide food for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Because we wear the Team Samaritan House jerseys, with the Catholic Charities emblem, whenever we come across a rider who has a flat tire, or a broken bike, or is struggling on the roadside, we always slow down and ask what kind of help we can offer. And if anything is needed, we stop. It may be giving them a protein bar or a bottle of water or changing a tire.

That service is a small reminder to us that we’re here to help one another, however we can. And there’s nothing more important than helping Catholic Charities show the kindness, mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ through our shelter services. You can help. You can join us in saying that homeless people matter. Go to ccdenver.org/rtr and become part of the team.

Stay tuned for more miracles

Date 03.12.15

Stay tuned for more miracles

(Larry's column appeared in the Mar. 5 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

Since my arrival at Catholic Charities in April 2013, I’ve said that we serve two kinds of people: those with a need to give and those with a need to receive. That was brought home to me in an amazing way at A Beacon of Hope Gala for Lighthouse and Women’s Services, which raised more than $700,000 to help women, children and families in need.

Just before the gala began, I was blessed to introduce a Lighthouse client family to a donor whose advertising project had helped that expectant mom and dad find Lighthouse a year earlier. At the time, the young couple had been driving around Denver, thinking they might be pregnant. Then they saw a bus with an advertisement for Lighthouse Women’s Center and a phone number, which they called. They were treated with respect and compassion at Lighthouse throughout her pregnancy, they said. And at the Jan. 31 gala, they brought their beautiful 3-month-old baby in a carrier.

That story, for me, is what Catholic Charities is all about and what can happen when we give ourselves in faith to serve others, even if we don’t know how it will all turn out. Here’s the background:

Lighthouse Women’s Center had launched an eight-week advertising campaign in late 2013 on buses and light rail trains in the Denver market, intending to reach women in crisis pregnancies. The donor family funding the project had three goals: greater visibility for Lighthouse, ads with a dedicated phone number to track responses, and simple messaging and imagery to reach young women in crisis, such as “Unplanned pregnancy? You are NOT Alone” or “Considering an Abortion? We can help. Free Services.”

In the tally of calls received and services provided, we concluded that several women in various circumstances had a change of heart and did not pursue an abortion as a result of the advertising campaign. And know this: We don’t just ask a woman in a crisis pregnancy not to abort her child. We show her a path to a life with her child through our continuum of care. That includes free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and confidential counseling at Lighthouse—and may also include shelter, diapers, clothing, food, counseling—all that she may need to begin a life with that child. And whether a woman is abortion-minded, in a crisis pregnancy, seeking a pregnancy test or simply happens to see the right sign pointing her to Lighthouse at the right moment, we want to be there.

And so do our donors. At the gala, the donor family who had so generously funded the first transit ad campaign for Lighthouse said they are going to renew—and increase—their funding for that project. Stay tuned for more miracles.

Saving one baby every week—and their families

Date 01.12.15

Saving one baby every week—and their families

(Larry's column appeared in the Jan. 12 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

You have been part of an amazing life-saving mission—and we have much more work to do.

Lighthouse Women’s Center, located in Denver across the street from a massive Planned Parenthood abortion facility, will soon record the 100th baby born to women served at Lighthouse. Since March 2013, we have averaged one precious baby a week, born to moms who have bravely chosen life—sometimes against incredibly tough odds.

Now it’s our turn to be a light in their lives. On Saturday, Jan. 31, A Beacon of Hope Gala will be held at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver. We’re planning to have more than 1,000 people in attendance and to raise more than $1 million for Lighthouse and Women’s Services.

I hope you can join us that evening and encourage you to visit ccdenver.org/gala to buy tickets. The deadline is Jan. 24. But if you can’t make it that night, there’s another way to participate by donating the cost of a ticket (at that same website link) to support the wide range of services provided by Catholic Charities to moms in need.

At Lighthouse, those services include free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, counseling and connections to needed services. Through the Gabriel Project, moms can get free diapers and material needs to care for their newborns and young children. At Father Ed Judy House, we provide shelter for single women with children, many of whom are victims of domestic violence. Our Respect Life Resources office works through schools, parishes and other venues to educate about the dignity of all life from conception to natural death. Project Rachel provides comprehensive counseling to post-abortive women and men.

We all know that families, particularly those struggling to get by, are under tremendous pressures. What can be done? Lighthouse and Women’s Services, through Catholic Charities, is showing what’s possible.

When a woman comes to Lighthouse in a difficult situation—pregnant, possibly alone, anxious and dreading the future—the care we provide is intended to serve her, save her child and rebuild her family. If we turn our back on them, we discard the future families of America and we can’t afford to do that. And Catholic Charities can’t afford to choose between saving the unborn and our social ministries that provide food, shelter and sustenance to the needy. They are one and the same. A life is a life. And life begins at conception.

A need to give, a need to receive

Date 12.17.14

(Larry's column appeared in the Dec. 17 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

Our mission at Catholic Charities is to serve Jesus Christ by serving those with the greatest needs: our brothers and sisters who may be hungry, homeless and suffering. But it’s probably those with a need to give who have a greater hunger than those with a need to receive. Think about it. Don’t we all have a need to give? When someone receives a sandwich, or a place to sleep, they’re really giving the giver an opportunity to connect with Jesus Christ. 

The corporal works of mercy are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. Isn’t that what we’re all asked to do by Jesus Christ at one point or another in our lives? The spiritual works of mercy are to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses, comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead.

Catholic Charities is about sharing the love and mercy of Jesus Christ in order to serve givers and receivers, from conception to natural death. We have a wide variety of ministries that serve 50,000 people a year throughout the Archdiocese of Denver. We have five child-care centers, with The Mariposa Early Childhood Education Center to open in 2015. We have five shelters, with a sixth one, the Holy Rosary Center for Women, opening soon. Regina Caeli Clinical Services offers counseling and mental health services. Lighthouse Women’s Center cares for pregnant woman—and is located across the street from an abortion clinic.

I invite you to join us at Catholic Charities. Pray for us. Volunteer at serve.ccdenver.org. And as you’re making year-end charitable donations, consider making an unrestricted tax-deductible gift to Catholic Charities. Our mailing address is 4045 Pecos St., Denver, CO 80211. Or, go to our website at www.ccdenver.org and click the red box that reads, “Donate to Change Lives,” and give to “Our Greatest Need.” You may also give restricted gifts to Catholic Charities that may provide greater tax benefits through the Child Care Tax Credit and Enterprise Zone Tax Credit. See the adjoining table for more information.

I wish you and your families a blessed Advent and a merry Christmas.

The most charitable act in the world

Date 11.18.14

The most charitable act in the world

(Larry's column appeared in the Nov. 18 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

A man at Samaritan House said recently that the homeless shelter helped him find a job by providing “a place to sleep, a place to shower, a place to get groomed for a job interview (and) a sack lunch to take” for the day.

That’s what we do at Catholic Charities.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us for all eternity.

That’s why we do it. 1Serving Jesus Christ by serving others is at the heart of our many ministries.

At Samaritan House in downtown Denver, we put more than 350 people to bed each night, amounting to more than 125,000 nights of shelter a year. Our other shelters include St. Joseph’s Home for Veterans, Father Ed Judy House for women and children, The Mission in Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley. We plan to open Holy Rosary Center for Women, a temporary shelter, in Denver.

Our shelters provide not just a place for those experiencing homelessness to sleep, but a way to get back on their feet, to regain their dignity, self-reliance and self-respect; to become contributors to society. And hopefully, to give back to others.

Our mission begins with Jesus Christ and that’s why our new Catholic Charities’ logo begins with the crucifix. The crucifix is the most charitable symbol in the world, because the ultimate charitable act is to give yourself completely for others, as Jesus Christ did.

I humbly ask you to join us in this service, however you feel called to participate. As Thanksgiving draws near, and then the Advent season that leads to Christmas, our hearts naturally open to the needs of others. Below are three things you can do right now. However you participate, it will be greatly appreciated by the people who need it the most.

Three things you can do right now:

– Sign up to serve. Visit our volunteer portal here and see for yourself the many needs that exist in our areas of Family and Child Care Services, Women’s Services, and Housing and Shelter Services.

– Buy an extra turkey and bring it to Samaritan House at 2301 Lawrence St. in Denver. Phone: 303-294-0241. Or, if you’d prefer to make a financial donation directly, click on the “Help the Homeless” banner atop our website at www.ccdenver.org.

– Donate $100, $250, $500 or more to Catholic Charities on Colorado Gives Day Dec. 9. Better yet, go to www.ccdenver.org right now and click on the Colorado Gives Day banner to pre-set that donation.

Fight for life with Jason Jones Jan. 31

Date 10.17.14

Fight for life with Jason Jones Jan. 31

(Larry's column appeared in the Oct. 15 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

I’ve written previously about “The real war on women: a life of poverty.” Here’s the reality: “The culture asks women to contracept. Then, when they become pregnant, it asks them to abort. If they don’t abort and keep the child, many times they are ostracized from their family or violently abused by a partner. They are often left to raise their child completely alone.”

Now meet someone who, like Catholic Charities, is on the front lines, fighting for life. If you saw the 2006 pro-life movie “Bella,” you may already be familiar with the work of Jason Scott Jones, a producer of that film and others. He’s also the author, with John Zmirak, of the recent book, “The Race to Save Our Century.”

Jones will be the keynote speaker at the Beacon of Hope Gala on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Wings Over the Rockies, benefiting Lighthouse and Women’s Services of Catholic Charities. We raised $500,000 at the previous gala, which was sold out. I urge you to buy your tickets now through www.ccdenver.org/gala. Money raised will help support a range of women’s services, including Lighthouse Women’s Center, which has saved more than 50 lives of babies in its first two years in operation across the street from Planned Parenthood.

“If we cannot care for the most vulnerable members of our family, the child in the womb, then who can we care for?” said Jones by telephone recently. He himself experienced that tragedy. After he and his high-school girlfriend discovered she was pregnant, he entered the Army in order to support them. When he was in basic training in 1989, said Jones, he received a phone call from her telling him that she had been coerced into having an abortion.

Jones went on to become a pro-life activist, working at Hawaii Right to Life, in politics and for Human Life International. His focus now is using media to change hearts and minds, illuminating Catholic social teaching on the dignity of the human person.

“Why Catholic Charities and, to me, pregnancy centers are so important is they are a safety net for the most vulnerable members of our communities, which is mothers and their pre-born children,” said Jones, a Catholic convert.

Jones met his wife, they married in 2005 and live in Hawaii. They have seven children. He has an amazing vision for a new culture of life, including a short film, “Crescendo,” that will be online this week. Producers with Jones include Pattie Mallette (the mother of Justin Bieber) and Eduardo Verastegui, the star of “Bella.”

“My goal with this project was to create a monument to the incomparable dignity and beauty of the human person that would transcend time and culture,” said Jones in a statement.

Please join us and Jason Jones in the fight for life at the Jan. 31 Beacon of Hope Gala. And if you can’t attend, please give generously to support our work.

Help moms and infants with 100,000 diapers

Date 09.17.14

Help moms and infants with 100,000 diapers

(Larry's column appeared in the Sept. 16 edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

One of the greatest needs we have at Catholic Charities — at the five Gabriel Houses that serve new moms and on the family floors of our shelters — is diapers. So we have launched a drive to gather 100,000 diapers for newborns and infants by the end of October. We’re at nearly 30 percent of our goal and we need your help.

The Bottom Line Diaper Bank is led by volunteers through Catholic Charities. Diapers, as any parent knows, are very expensive. To provide diapers to children, whose parents are struggling financially, is a critical need. And when we look at the landscape of those we are serving, a fast-growing homeless population is young single mothers with children.

We’ve launched this drive to help families provide for their children a basic element. Please dig deep and help us collect 100,000 diapers for distribution to the needy.

There are two ways to participate. You can go online at www.ccdenver.org/diaper to donate cash, which will allow us to buy diapers directly. All donations made through the website will go to purchase diapers. For every $25 contributed, we can buy about 100 diapers for distribution.

If you would like to buy the diapers yourself in order to make an in-kind donation, go to the same website link, www.ccdenver.org/diaper, to make arrangements. We appreciate your help and I know the families served will be grateful.

In the future, we intend to incorporate our diaper drives through the parishes, so people can drop off diapers directly there and we can pick them up. We’re also reaching out to all the Knights of Columbus councils throughout northern Colorado and asking them to conduct two food drives, two diaper drives, a coat drive and a back-to-school drive for charity, through the parishes. We want to get people focused on participating in these charitable activities through their parishes. We welcome your participation.

Visit Catholic Charities online at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

To make a donation to the 100,000 Diaper Campaign, go to www.ccdenver.org/diaper.

Making a gift of your life

Date 08.13.14

Making a gift of your life

(Larry's column appeared in the Aug. 13th edition of the Denver Catholic Register)

Look to the Middle East and so many of our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ are fighting for their way of life, their faith and even their lives. Christians across the globe are being persecuted and tortured just because they believe in Jesus Christ.

What can we do?

“First, we need to express our solidarity with our fellow Christians in the Middle East through material and spiritual support,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote recently in the Denver Catholic Register. “We must pray and fast for our enemies and their change of heart as Jesus commands us in the Gospel.”

Meanwhile, many thousands of unaccompanied children have poured over the southern border into the United States.

What can we do?

“This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, that these children be welcome and protected,” said Pope Francis in July in a statement to the Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development. “These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”

In our own communities, we see what Blessed Mother Teresa, from her book “A Simple Path,” once described as “not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.”

What can we do?

At Catholic Charities, we welcome the stranger, body and soul, through our many ministries.

“Just talking to someone makes all the difference in the world,” I said recently on EWTN’s “Heroic Media” program. “We see the effects of that … where these people have nobody to talk to and they have nobody to share their lives with. And when you do, and the smile appears on their face, and all of the sudden you find out the rich history that this person brings and all the beauty and the glory and the dignity that that human being has — given to them by God — you’re blown away by it. Everybody has a beautiful story, if you let them tell you what it is. It’s just taking the time. …That’s charity.”

So what will you do?

As summer winds down and we look to the beginning of the school year, take a moment and offer a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for his great gift of salvation. And ask: what does it mean to be Catholic, to lead by example, to make a gift of your life?

Call to Charity: Contraception Deception

Date 07.15.14

Call to Charity: Contraception Deception

(Larry's column appeared in the July 16 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

I read recently about a “remote control contraceptive chip” and wondered: where does it go after that, when is enough enough?

Sex is a beautiful, amazing thing. And the Catholic Church is an amazing proponent of it, within marriage, when it’s honored for what it is, which is a beautiful act of creation given to us by Jesus Christ and God our Father.

Charity begins when we stop objectifying our spouses. It begins when we stop forcing one another to contracept. It’s in not sleeping with your spouse-to-be. This has to go both ways. Men and women have to take responsibility.

That’s where charity begins. When we do that, then we will start to be charitable in a way that matters with the people we love the most. And when you’re charitable with the people you love the most, guess what happens? Then you’re charitable to other people, whom you may not love quite as much or know quite as much. But then you’ll start to understand charity and then you’ll start to share it.

All these things are being ripped away from us in society as the family breaks down before our eyes, in large part because of the contraceptive, narcissistic, commercialization of sex.

And who pays the price? Women in poverty.

In remarks to the Knights of Columbus, to young people at Theology on Tap and on EWTN, I’ve discussed aspects of this sad scenario. First we ask women to contracept. If that contraception fails, we ask them to abort. And if they decide not to abort, then what happens? At Catholic Charities, we have a bird’s eye view of this. They may be ostracized and suffer domestic abuse from their partners, who don’t want them to keep the child. If they live with their parents, who don’t want them to keep the child, then they’re kicked out of the house, which leaves them homeless.

So now they’re pregnant and they’re homeless and they have no one who loves them to care for them.

That is a human tragedy. And it won’t be solved by remote control.

Join Pope Francis in the culture of encounter

Date 06.30.14

(Larry's column appeared in the June 18 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

As Catholics, we all know we should have a preference for the poor. What does that look like? Pope Francis calls it a culture of encounter rather than a culture of exclusion. Volunteering is one way you can show your love and preference for the poor. And we have a new way to do that through Catholic Charities.

Volunteering can take many forms. Last week, 15 people (including yours truly) committed to raise money for Catholic Charities homeless shelters by riding the six-day, 471-mile Ride the Rockies bike event. Nearly 300 people have donated to Team Samaritan House, raising more than $28,000 to support five homeless shelters in northern Colorado, which serve those in the greatest need.

Other volunteers, as always, are giving of themselves through the many ministries of Catholic Charities, to serve lunch, make dinner or drive someone who needs a ride to the doctor, or to Mass. Others volunteer as part of Savers of Souls, taking turns praying in front of Planned Parenthood (across from our Lighthouse Women's Center) for an end to abortion every hour of every day it is open.

To see all the volunteer opportunities—and express in action your preference for poor—we invite you to go to the Catholic Charities website and click on "Volunteer" to see our new Volunteer site.

There you can register and review dozens of volunteer opportunities to find one that fits you. We will be working throughout the Archdiocese of Denver to assist parishes in their volunteer efforts, since charity begins at home—and in your parish.

Join Pope Francis in the culture of encounter and help us help those who need the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. A hair stylist—who every month cuts the hair of residents at the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver—said it well. "I don't have money to give," she said. "But I have a talent."

Please think of us, pray for us, and if you feel so moved, also send a donation of whatever size fits your budget. Thank you and God bless.

 

The real war on women: a life of poverty

Date 05.16.14

The real war on women: a life of poverty

Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, recently spoke to the Knights of Columbus Colorado State Council Convention in Keystone, Colo. Below is a brief video from the event...

And here is his "Call to Charity" column that appeared in the May 21 edition of the Denver Catholic Register...

I recently addressed my brother Knights of Columbus during the Colorado State Council Convention in Keystone, Colo.

Charity was a key principle for Father Michael J. McGivney when founding the Knights in the 1880s. Their concern for the most vulnerable dates back to its earliest days when the Knights "passed the hat" to care for widows and orphans. We still witness it today in so many ways, as when they worked shoulder to shoulder with us serving those in need after the devastating floods in northern Colorado last September.

My recent encounters with these cherished Knights and Ladies of Columbus inspired a vision: we need knights in shining armor—men, women and youth everywhere—to continue joining forces with Catholic Charities, working with Catholic parishes and all people of good will to respond to the newest face of poverty among us: single women with children.

We see it every day at Catholic Charities throughout our three circles: Women's Services, Housing and Shelter Services, and Family and Child Care Services. The war on women is real. But it's not being conducted by Catholics and certainly not by the Knights of Columbus.

The culture asks women to contracept. Then, when they become pregnant, it asks them to abort. If they don't abort and keep the child, many times they are ostracized from their family or violently abused by a partner. They are often left to raise their child completely alone.

That is a war on women. It's a slow-motion war that has been waged for decades, with many casualties. With no truce in sight, our immediate response must be love, mercy and charity. Pope Francis said last year that he sees the Church as "a field hospital after battle." Catholic Charities, in partnership with our parishes, is working hard to mobilize that field hospital here in Colorado. I invited the Knights in Keystone to join us by taking any and all of the following action. I ask anyone reading this to do the same:

  • Sign up to receive e-mail communications from Catholic Charities. Simply e-mail your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  • Join our prayer network, which includes Savers of Souls: prayer warriors committed to one hour of prayer per month in front of Planned Parenthood, together covering the facility in prayer every open hour. (Lighthouse, the pregnancy resource center run by Catholic Charities, is right across the street.)
  • Contribute to a statewide Diaper Bank soon to be launched for newborns in need. The Knights' Ladies Auxiliary is already involved.
  • Participate in—and help expand—canned food drives in your parish. As directed by parishes, Catholic Charities will be working with the Knights to accomplish this.

When Father McGivney died at age 38, he had already set in motion what became "the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization"—the Knights of Columbus. If he can do that, we can, in solidarity, make a response equally historic.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese. Visit us online at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

Call to Charity: A Marian month for mothers

Date 04.25.14

Call to Charity: A Marian month for mothers

(This edition of Call to Charity appeared in the April 23, 2014 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

Mother's Day falls on May 11 this year and it is the 100th anniversary of this occasion in the U.S.

Create Mothers Day Basket ButtonLook back much further, nearly two millennia, to when the Blessed Virgin Mary said yes to God. She was a teenager who found herself pregnant and alone in a society that stoned women who found themselves in that situation. And yet, Joseph, through his honor and kindness, protected her and shielded her. They raised Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, and was resurrected for us, to save us from our sins, to bring us back to life.

So let's celebrate Mary—and all the mothers in our lives—throughout the Marian month of May, culminating in the feast of the Visitation on May 31. Say thank you to your mother, your sister, your wife for their yes to life and remind them how much you love them.

We are doing that at Catholic Charities and we invite you to join us. Starting this week, donors are making Mother's Day baskets for moms with children who are experiencing homelessness and beginning to rebuild their lives. The baskets will be delivered to homeless shelters throughout northern Colorado: Samaritan House in downtown Denver, Father Ed Judy House in south Denver, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Ft. Collins. The baskets may contain beauty items, gift cards and other goods.

With each basket will be a Miraculous Medal, also known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, plus a prayer card that states, "O sweet and lovely Mary, holy Mother of God, queen of all mothers, pray for us!"

This is our prayer. What is yours? How are you going to honor the women and mothers in your life? Will you teach your sons to respect, love and defend women, to appreciate everything they are and the amazing things they do? This is what we are called to do.

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See a list of upcoming Marian eventsincluding donations of Mother's Day baskets.

Call to Charity: Time for brave hearts

Date 04.01.14

(Larry's column appeared in the March 26 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

"We treat Jesus and refer to him all the time as if he's just a woman, feminine all the time: he's weeping all the time and he never picks a fight and he certainly never wins any, and he's just so nice, like a greeting card...No! He is a lion, he is fierce. There is a reason that every single man I have ever met on the planet loves the movie 'Braveheart.' And every single normal woman I have ever met on the face of the earth loves every single man like that."

That's Gianna Jessen, who spoke to 850 people March 8 in Denver at the Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope Gala for Lighthouse and Women's Services. Jessen is an abortion survivor who says she has the "gift of cerebral palsy" and refers to herself as "God's girl." The gala raised more than $500,000 for a range of women's services provided by Catholic Charities, including the Lighthouse Women's Center, which offers a lifeline to women in crisis pregnancies, right across the street from Planned Parenthood.

Following Jessen on stage, I remarked that the new face of poverty is a single woman and her child, and that the thing that is missing is men. They're just not there.

We need men to focus on their families and to provide an example, to stand up and be counted as the Christian men that we are, to not be afraid to use the word 'Jesus' in a daily conversation, to bring our faith into our daily lives.

This is an era of absent men.

It takes a brave man to be charitable and to put his family first. Because society tells us to put yourself first. To be a steward, to be a warrior for Jesus, a man must defend and protect his family. Are you loving your family and raising your sons to be honorable men, to love women, to defend women? Are you raising your sons and daughters to be chaste and—if called to marriage—to seek a spouse for lifelong marriage? Are we open to God's gift of children and not mangled in the false promises of contraception and abortion?

It's time for brave hearts.

With three weeks left in Lent, resolve to write down your answers to those questions, one each week.

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See videos and a media gallery from the Lighthouse and Women's Services gala.