‘It’s still not over’

Date 09.10.14

Flood victims find solace, ongoing recovery year after devastation

‘It’s still not over’

When the rain falls down around his home, Joe Montez can’t sleep.

A year ago when it rained, rivers swelled and flash floods swept the Front Range region ravaging homes and displacing thousands, including Montez and his family.

Without warning, 6-foot-high waves of water from the Platte River deluged their Weld County property on Country Road 52 and left them stranded, forced to sleep the night on the raised railroad tracks nearby.

“It’ll be with us forever because of the fear,” said Montez, 59, a Vietnam veteran. “When it rains you can’t sleep, because you don’t know.”

There was no way to anticipate heavy rains causing severe flooding in September 2013 would reach historic levels earning it the title of a 1,000-year rain and a 100-year flood. More than 18,000 residents were evacuated, and 1,621 homes destroyed, according to state agencies.

Read more at The Denver Catholic Register

Written by: NISSA LAPOINT, September 08, 2014

Photo Credit: Nissa LaPoint/DCR

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?

In Response to the Child Refugee Crisis on our Southern Border

Date 07.21.14

In Response to  the Child Refugee Crisis on our Southern Border

"In this humanitarian crisis, let us not forget that these immigrant families and children are human beings. They are children of God and must be treated with dignity and respect, care and compassion."

(Sister Norma Pimentel, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, San Juan, Texas.)

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver is working with other Catholic Charities agencies to help address the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border of the United States. A representative of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services for Denver is assisting our sister agencies.


The Disaster Operations team from Catholic Charities USA “has been responding to this crisis since early June, providing a range of support to our local agencies such as working with government agencies to find shelter that can properly house children, finding bilingual volunteers and certified social workers, and collaborating with other U.S. Catholic Church organizations and service providers to identify and work towards long-term and short-term solutions to this crisis.”


Regardless of the reasons for this crisis, these children need our help now. Please contribute generously so that we may serve others with mercy and compassion, guided by the light of Jesus Christ.



Two Catholic ministries partner for Denver’s poor

Date 07.16.14

Denver Catholic Charities and Society of St. Vincent de Paul trade resources in mutual commitment to poor, homeless throughout Denver metro area

Two Catholic ministries partner for Denver’s poor

In their ongoing commitment to connect “those with a need to give and those with a need to receive,” Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver happily announces an expanded partnership with the Denver metro area’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), a fellow Catholic organization equally committed to the Church’s call to charity.

About St. Vincent de Paul Society

Inspired by the living witness of St. Vincent de Paul, a 16th century saint renowned for his remarkable service to the poor, members of the Society provide door-to-door service to the needy and suffering residing within their local community. The international Society’s network is organized into small, parish-based conferences of Catholics specially committed to the Vincentian mission.

Society members travel in groups of two for scheduled home visits with the person or family in need and, after giving them the opportunity to share the details of their situation, determine together if and how the Society may be of service.

“Our motto within the Society has always been, ‘No works of charity are foreign to [us],” says Chris Strassburger, executive director of the SVdP’s Denver Metro Council.

“It might be buying someone food or clothing or crucial prescriptions,” continues Strassburger. ”It might be assisting with basic utility bills for protection against the elements. Or, it could be driving someone to a job interview because they don’t have a car. It’s truly amazing, the stories I’ve heard about how our volunteers help people in their moment of need.”

Partnering with Catholic Charities

In 2011, Catholic Charities’ Emergency Assistance ministry began partnering with two SVdP conferences in Aurora – one at St. Pius X Parish and the other at St. Michael the Archangel Parish. Since that time, Catholic Charities has donated over $50,000 in rent and utility assistance funds to the conference.

In recent months, Catholic Charities has expanded this partnership from two to all 27 parishes currently hosting a SVdP conference within the Denver Metro Council, and committed to sharing up to $60,000 in emergency funds before the end of 2014. Beyond financial assistance, Catholic Charities has also begun assisting the SVdP ministry on a routine basis with clothing and other needed material goods.

“Catholic Charities is committed to partnering with other Catholic organizations to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” says Wendy Oldenbrook, Director of Marketing and Communication at Catholic Charities. “Working with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus and parishes throughout the archdiocese allows us to amplify our collective impact, increase efficiencies and support the grassroots efforts of dedicated volunteers in our community.”

Strassburger agrees.

“Through this partnership, we can help even more men, women, and children in our community to get past a short term hurdle that life has thrown them,” he adds, “and help them to better themselves for the long term.”

Beyond assisting Catholic Charities with ensuring the personalized distribution of material needs to those in need, the SVdP has also demonstrated their own support for like-minded Catholic Charities ministries. On a monthly basis, the SVdP conference at St. Michael the Archangel Parish has collected, on average, over 250 pounds of donated food to be delivered to Catholic Charities Little Flower Food Pantry in Aurora.

A unified mission for the poor

As the charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Denver, Catholic Charities connects those with a need to give and those with a need to receive, in three interlocking areas: Women’s Services, Family & Child Care Services, and Housing and Shelter Services.

Like Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul believes that charity extends far beyond material help.

“Sometimes the thing for which our clients are most grateful is our willingness to sit with them, to listen to their story with compassion, and to assure them that they aren’t alone,” says Strassburger.

Neither Catholic Charities nor the Society make any religious distinction in who they serve. Firmly rooted in prayer, Christian Gospel values and in the social teaching of the Catholic Church, they recognize every charitable encounter as an encounter with the face of Jesus Christ.


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.


St. Rose of Lima focused on the Bottom Line

Date 06.25.14

Father Jerry Rohr and the parish of St. Rose of Lima (Denver) graciously are hosting space to house the first Catholic Charities diaper bank. Called The Bottom Line, this diaper bank will provide free diapers and senior products to Catholic Charities’ ministries that serve pregnant women, new mothers, and their families. These resources will also be available to parishes and their surrounding communities.

Running an average of $72 a month, or $864 a year, diapers can be one of the largest ongoing expenses for a baby. “Without a doubt, it’s one of the biggest expenses (for many families),” explained Mark Hahn. “It’s estimated that one in three families struggle to buy diapers; and there are times when parents are forced to choose between buying diapers and buying food.”

 “There’s such a need,” said Nhung Nielson, chair of the diaper bank committee and a parishioner of Light of the World Church in Littleton. “There are a lot of food banks (but) a diaper bank is unique … it’s a forgotten need for struggling families.”

Diapers and wipes will be collected at various diaper drives throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and then typically delivered to St. Rose of Lima. At St. Rose, the resources will be quickly inventoried and sent out to the locations that are in need or have requested supplies. Thank you Father Jerry and St. Rose – we are blessed you are closely watching The Bottom Line!

Charities' Child Care gives families 'Head Start'

Date 06.20.14

A need to receive

The mission of Catholic Charities’ six Early Childhood Education centers goes far beyond the stuff of school.

Our ultimate goal: healing. For little ones. And for their families.

Daniel’s story is living proof.

Daniel* was nearly 12 months old when his mother enrolled him in our Child Development Center. He couldn’t crawl, he made no sounds and his vision was severely impaired.

The teachers, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Human Services, immediately came up with a special plan for Daniel.

Warmly encouraged by staff, Daniel’s mother also committed to the plan so that any improvements would stretch beyond the classroom to home and beyond.

Specialists came in weekly to work alongside Daniel, his mom and his teacher Ruth for playtime and crawling practice.

After just one year in his classroom, everything changed.

Now two years old, Daniel is talking and running around the playground with fully focused vision, thanks to his new glasses.

At their annual check-in, Daniel’s Special Education team proudly announced that his motor, social-emotional and cognitive skills had improved from that of a 7-month-old infant to that of a 2-year-old child, in just one year.

Daniel’s mother beams with joy and newfound hope.

Not only has she found the support she so desperately needed in meeting her son’s needs, she, too, has received the medical, financial, and transportation support needed to safeguard her new job and the promise it holds for a brighter future.

A need to give

Catholic Charities serves up to 296 children across their six child care centers located throughout the Denver Metro Area.

In addition to providing Early Head Start, Head Start and Child Care services for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, staff also offer home-based visits for families with special circumstances, as well as help pregnant women who are anticipating future child care needs.

Beginning in 2015, Catholic Charities will unveil The Mariposa Early Childhood Education Center, a brand new education facility built near the Denver Auraria Campus, in partnership with The Denver Housing Authority.

This newest child care center will offer services for up to 64 children and their families, including slots for infants and toddlers.

Please help us to expand our mission to families in need! Your support plays a crucial role in equipping these families with the high-quality education, developmental resources and emotional support needed to achieve self-sufficiency, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.

Our top wish list items include landscape design services, school supplies and other furnishings. For more information, please contact Alison Keough at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 303-742-0828 extension 2043.

Support our Child Care ministry and receive a 50% State Tax Credit! Visit www.ccdenver.org/child-care-tax-credit.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients. Photos are used with permission.

Peace and serenity after the flood

Date 06.20.14

Flood survivors experience renewed hope with Charities' help

It’s been nearly one year since a series of massive storms devastated portions of northern Colorado with flooding and mudslides, damaging or destroying nearly 20,000 homes.

Twenty-four counties in Colorado—more than 4,500 square miles—were impacted, with Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties experiencing the greatest damage.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver has led the charge in providing ongoing, long-term support to the thousands of flood victims still struggling to recover.

Consider the following testimonies from clients served by Catholic Charities in recent months:

"Katie*, 75, literally wept when we said we were going to be able to help with her utilities and rent. Her trailer had been swept away by the flood and her aid from FEMA had only paid for half the cost of a new one.

Having paid off her first mortgage decades ago, she suddenly found herself burdened with the unexpected cost of a new one, leaving her unable to pay her additional bills. Catholic Charities assisted her for the first time since the flood.”

~Keith, Larimer County Case Manager


"We are all emotionally spent and it takes courage every day to not go down into a well of sadness and depression. However, we are strong and will put one foot in front of the other and all will be well.

We have faith in God and know that this is happening for a reason, and that all we will receive from this life-changing event is part of His plan for our lives.

flood-relief-14-250x333I feel His love every day, it is what keeps me going. My son started reading the Bible for the first time in his life and I rejoice about that. He also wants to start going to church with me, and my husband is going to attend church with us on Mother's Day. What a blessing."

~ Larimer County Flood Victim, April 2014


"My client lost her personal business in the flood. She is also dealing with her husband’s recent stroke. We were able to help with her mortgage, but it was the King Soopers gift card that brought her to tears.

She couldn’t stop crying at the thought of being able to cook a good, homemade meal for her family, without the guilt of ‘wasting’ money on quality ingredients. She was so thankful she gave me a hug from across the table!"

~Christine, Boulder County Case Manager


“We helped an elderly Hispanic woman who was undergoing through chemo for colon cancer.

We assisted with a hotel room for her and her dependents (her children’s children) until they could move into their new safe and mold-free apartment.

They were in tears at our immediate response and genuine care!"

~Christine, Boulder County Case Manager


“During my last appointment for the day, a client’s phone alarm system went off. It was alerting her to a tornado warning in the area.

Knowing that we were in a trailer home with no basement, she reached out took my hand and said, “I know the Lord will take care of us.”

~ Ruth, Weld County Case Manager


To support Catholic Charities’ 3-year long-term flood recovery plan, visit www.ccdenver.org/donate and select “Disaster Response Efforts.”

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients. Photos are used with permission































"The Homeless Soul" | A 5th grader's reflection

Date 06.20.14

When her teacher assigned an essay answering the question, "What's one thing that changed your life?," fifth-grader Nicole immediately recalled her first experience at Catholic Charities' The Mission homeless shelter in Fort Collins.

Below is the full text of her submitted essay, provided with her permission.

"The Homeless Soul"

"False; not genuine; counterfeit"

This word, this definition, was all I thought as I looked at their longing faces. And somehow I felt like I could’ve done something to prevent it.

But, before this all happened I was staring at myself, thinking, wondering about what I was going to encounter. Dressed in bright yellow Nike shorts and my state softball t-shirt, a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions were like a tornado inside of me.

I’ll admit I was scared, there was news going around about these kind of people. They were robbers, kidnappers, druggies, and for all I know, drug dealers.
“Mikayla, Cassidy, Nicole!!”my dad shouted,” Let’s go!”

“Coming,” my sisters and I replied. I grabbed my ipod and hopped in the silver Subaru. With Mikayla on my left and Cassidy on my right, we were off.
After many wrong turns...we made it to the Catholic Charities Mission. I couldn’t believe it. The dinner wouldn’t be served for another 3 1/2 hours and there were people already there.

Outside of the building there was a swing set, bike racks and Christmas decorations. My mom, dad, sisters, and I walked into the small kitchen [and] … looked at what we are going to serve. Mikayla found a whiteboard that said,

Dear servers,
Thanks for helping out. Tonight at 7 o’clock, you will serve mini pizzas, salad, green beans, and cookies. Cook the pizzas at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Thanks again,

With that, we got to work. Cassidy cut the green beans…my dad made the pizzas and my mom and Mikayla made the salad.

Me, well I “supervised” the cookies. Also, I occasionally helped out here and there. Even if I wasn’t do something, I was taste testing or meeting the residents of the building. Looking back now, that was my favorite part: meeting the people and sort of helping them with their chores.

By the time 6:30 rolled around we were ready. The pizzas were hot and out of the oven, the salad was dressed and cold. The green beans were green and crisp. The kitchen smelled like gourmet fast food. As for the cookies, maybe a few had mysteriously disappeared.

But, of course we had to wait until 7 to serve. That half hour dreaded on. It seemed like you were on a hospital bed waiting to die, but it wouldn’t happen. After what seemed like eternity, 7 o’clock came upon us. With rubber gloves on and spoons in hand, we were ready, ready to face these robbers, kidnappers, druggies, and drug dealers.

But, as soon as my dad lifted up the door, everything went into slow motion. I saw their faces, the kids, the tattoos that had a deeper purpose than anybody ever imagined, but most of all I saw hope.

Hope that one day things would get better. Hope that maybe sometime people wouldn’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, where you could just pull it out of a hat and have it right then and there.

That’s when it hit me. All this time, all my life, I had been complaining about not having the latest fashion, or the coolest phone, or being the smartest.

As for these people, they had nothing, but did they ever complain? No. They still lived knowing that one day things might not get better. That you could die from thirst or hunger tomorrow.

And yet, they still believed. They hoped and hoped and prayed. And still, to this day, I pray and hope with them.

Nicole currently attends Bethke Elementary School in Timnath, Colorado. She and her family have continued to volunteer monthly at Catholic Charities’ The Mission in Fort Collins. To learn how you can volunteer with Catholic Charities, visit http://serve.ccdenver.org/.

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.

When in Rome: "Basilicas, Basilicas, Basilicas!"

Date 05.03.14

A travel blog by Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon

Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.

Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.

Listing of all blog entries:

"Basilicas, Basilicas, Basilicas!"

"The Miracle of an Incorruptible"

"The Big Day"

"The Coliseum"

"A side trip to Assisi"

"Exploring Vatican City"

"We have arrived!"

"Before we depart..."

This was a day of total satiation for all of us.

We visited all the major basilicas around Rome, viewing spectacular chapels, artwork, statuary, altars, tombs…we were simply dumbstruck and stumbling around bleary-eyed before we were able to have lunch.

The only comparison I can give - and that still doesn't really do this justice - is something like the feeling that you have if you have toured the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago for the first time – so many things assaulting your senses at once, we just can’t take it in!

We were able to go to another delightful restaurant for lunch with their traditional courses of pastas and meat, then a really smooth and lovely cheesecake with tiny chocolate chips on top.

We chose to “ditch the group” and just wander through Roma along the sidestreets to see all the tiny shops.

The city is still brimming with pilgrims – we enjoy listening to the shop owners trying to yell greeting to people in different languages, to attract business, all with thick Italian accents…pretty funny when they’re attempting German, English, Polish, Japanese, etc.!

The shopping can be so intense in some shops that they will not let you inside – they’ll ask you to choose something from the outside – then they run in and get it for you.

Absolutely crazy.

If you want to observe the jet-set crowd, there is a street by the Spanish steps that has every single high-end brand name store that you could imagine. Sunglasses for over $300 anyone??!!

~ Lynn





When in Rome: "The Miracle of an Incorruptible"

Date 05.02.14

A travel blog by Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon

Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.

Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.

Listing of all blog entries:

"Basilicas, Basilicas, Basilicas!"

"The Miracle of an Incorruptible"

"The Big Day"

"The Coliseum"

"A side trip to Assisi"

"Exploring Vatican City"

"We have arrived!"

"Before we depart..."

hills of monasteryA visit to the Monastery of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.

I did NOT know that these two saints were not only brother and sister, they were twins!

That was quite touching for me as the mother of twin girls.

This is a beautiful monastery up steep slopes of thick green trees, absolutely packed with pilgrims because of the canonization.

You can see some original manuscripts from earlier centuries and actual black and white photographs of St. John Paul 2’s visit.

This place is filled with frescos, you’ll get a sore neck from looking up in amazement!

Also amazing is another INCORRUPTED Saint – St. Chelidonia. She died in the 1100’s , was uncovered 500 years later, and her body had not decomposed.

I’m showing you close up photos of her body which is behind glass – if you look closely you can still see the veins on her feet.

These saints’ bodies were another one of the incredible reasons that I HAD to embrace the Catholic faith – who in the world can explain this phenomena?

I’m also enclosing a lovely icon and a painting of the Last Supper pre-Michelangelo, with Jesus seated at the far left with John hugging him.

last supper

Another sculpture is Benedict in the cave where he spent so much time.

What a privilege to be here as well!

~ Lynn


When in Rome: "The Big Day"

Date 05.01.14

A travel blog by Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon

Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.

Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.

Listing of all blog entries:

"Basilicas, Basilicas, Basilicas!"

"The Miracle of an Incorruptible"

"The Big Day"

"The Coliseum"

"A side trip to Assisi"

"Exploring Vatican City"

"We have arrived!"

"Before we depart..."

Our tour owners originally had talked about leaving the hotel at 6am to get to the canonization – then they changed it to 0330, then to 0130!

A number of people bowed out at that turn of events, so I opened up our room for folks to watch on Italian television, to include our computer broadcasting EWTN so that we could hear the English commentary.

Everyone tried to go to bed, but the adrenaline was high!

Sure enough, a brave band, including my husband headed out at 1:30 in the morning!

By the time they reached the vicinity of the Vatican, there were already massive crowds pushing and pressing.

The bodies became compacted, one of our women became ill, one was short and her husband feared for her safety, another began to cry...

They realized that these were the types of crowds where people could be trampled...so, by 5am, they decided to leave and come back to the hotel.

My husband and another brave woman of 70 years decided to persevere!

They ended up being smashed along up to within one block of St. Peter’s square by daylight.

We all enjoyed the beautiful Mass!

He said that each time the JumboTrons would show Benedict, the crowds would erupt with joy!

There was so much garbage on the roads that street cleaners would come through to clear them for the PopeMobile.

Those of us watching were in amazement – we really didn’t talk much amongst ourselves, just stared at the television, many with tears pouring down our faces.

Some of us loved seeing bishops that we recognized.

Our two brave souls were able to see Pope Frances within a few feet as he drove down the road!

This is truly the Catholic church – so many, many nations represented, so many people thrilled to pieces to see the Successor of Peter!

So much for the Romans trying to kill off Christians and to stamp out Christianity!

How amazed they would be to see the millions in their city today, full of joy, singing with all their hearts in the streets – visiting the holy sites and churches in droves – it’s just too wonderful!

~ Lynn


When in Rome: "The Coliseum"

Date 04.30.14

A travel blog by Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon

Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.

Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.

Listing of all blog entries:

"Basilicas, Basilicas, Basilicas!"

"The Miracle of an Incorruptible"

"The Big Day"

"The Coliseum"

"A side trip to Assisi"

"Exploring Vatican City"

"We have arrived!"

"Before we depart..."

front of coliseumThis was to be a free morning, so some of us conferred to see what we might be able to accomplish on our own.

The hotel at which we are staying is about 30-45 minutes south of the main parts of Rome, and my husband is acutely careful with our funds...so, we decided to walk to the Metro.

Some comedy here, for if you ask a local how far away something is, they’ll inevitably say, “Oh, just-a five-a meen-oots!” for nearly everywhere.

So, the walk to the Metro was a good hike, but it took us all the way to the Coliseum – which is jaw-dropping to see for the first time!

We took a tour and learned that the ancient Romans had tickets that indicated at which arch they were to enter, and then another number indicating where their seat was – wow!

I’ll also show a picture of what it originally looked like.

drawing of coliseum

The floor is gone now, so you can see down into the lower levels where all the gladiators, animals, etc, were kept.

Some of us were discussing that if we’d been there 2000 years ago, we’d be lion food!

We also discussed what kind of conversations the early Christians must have had as they approached their deaths in front of such a huge group of people.

One of our women joked that she would have asked a gladiator, “Could I please have the lion with the least amount of teeth?”

Speaking of gladiators, there are some in costume around the entire area – who try to get you to take a photo with them. They are known for roughing people up to try to get more money for pictures…and they have swords, so many don’t argue!!

inside of coliseumWe returned for an incredible night with Bishop John Magee, former Private Secretary to Pope Paul VI, Pope JP1 and Pope JP2, as he discussed fascinating and intimate moments from throughout his lifetime with these great men.

Everyone is discussing what we’ll do regarding the Canonization tomorrow, in view of cautions that have been voiced – stay tuned to find out what everyone ended up doing...

~ Lynn