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

 

Call to Charity: Contraception Deception

Date 07.15.14

(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.

Catholic Charities in Denver: Saving and changing lives

Date 03.26.14

"Our goal is not to ask who are you, but what do you need?" said Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, describing the work of Lighthouse & Women's Services during the Beacon of Hope Gala, held March 8, 2014 in Denver.

See the video below and the full media archive of the event linked here, including videos of keynote speaker Gianna Jessen and a special presentation by a student at Notre Dame Catholic School in Denver. Updated 4/1/14.


Larry Smith radio interview: a Catholic Charities mission of love, mercy, joy and hope

Date 03.02.14

Hear Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, interviewed on the ICOSA radio show, which aired on 710 KNUS on Jan. 22, 2014.

Call to Charity: Our charities begin at home

Date 02.20.14

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

How can I help?

That is a beautiful question. And those who answer it by serving the hungry and the homeless are performing acts of mercy.

Yet, charity is something each of us can do in every moment of every day. It's simply saying "hello" and "God bless." It's listening to your neighbor. Helping your child. The most important thing may seem like getting your child to soccer practice. It's really getting them to Mass, to the Eucharist, to confession. It's sharing the love that you have for Jesus Christ.

The greatest charitable act that we can do—as parents—is to share our faith with our children. If you are raising children of faith, children who believe in Jesus Christ, they will take that charity into the world.

It's not easy. Looking back, I thank God that my picture was not used as the poster boy image for the seven deadly sins. We're all broken. We're all searching for one thing, God. Fortunately, he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to search for us, searching our hearts to bring us home.

Pope Francis said that, to be like Christ, "we should not put ourselves above others, but indeed lower ourselves, place ourselves at the service of others, become small with the small and poor with the poor. It is regrettable to see a Christian who does not want to lower himself, who does not want to serve."

At Catholic Charities—supported by your time, talent and treasure—we serve those we may not know. But that's not separate from serving those that you do know. They're both charitable activities. Charity may be giving something to someone: a coat, a sandwich, a place to sleep. That's important. But charity is also living love and mercy at home, in the Church, in our neighborhoods and in the public square. When you truly think about your neighbors as yourself, it changes the whole dynamic of charity.

If that continues to happen, Catholic Charities will remain vigorous because the graces of so many lives lived close to Christ can't help but overflow into our mission of Family and Child Care Services, Shelter Services and Women's Services.

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

Denver Mayor Hancock describes Catholic Charities as “valuable partner”

Date 02.06.14

After a visit to Mi Segunda Casa Head Start, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke with Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities, about continuing a partnership of service.

"Catholic Charities has perennially been a partner in the city, throughout the region, quite frankly, in helping us to develop smarter, healthier young people," said Hancock on Jan. 8. "And what you do – you're a valuable partner in the City of Denver – with regards to childcare, pre-school and Early Head Start. So, you're a valuable stakeholder..."

Mi Segunda Casa Head Start, located at 430 W. 9th Ave., serves children ages three to five years old.

"We're looking forward to continuing our partnership with the city," Smith said to Hancock. "Not just with our early childhood development, but with help to the homeless at our Samaritan House, and a lot of the other programs that we feel a strong partnership with the city, so thank you very much."

"Please keep up the good work," said Hancock. "Thanks for being our partner."

Call to Charity: A beacon of hope in women's services

Date 01.31.14

(Larry's column appeared in the Jan. 22, 2014, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

Something remarkable is happening in the Archdiocese of Denver. We are participating in, and witnessing, an evolution in women's services, including prenatal care, counseling and provision of basic necessities. It's happening here because Catholic Charities includes the Respect Life Resources office, the Gabriel Project and Lighthouse Women's Center.

To have that range of women's services within a Catholic Charities organization is unique. It is also a tremendous opportunity to take those services throughout northern Colorado.

It makes sense because our mission is to "extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to the poor and those in need." The "poor" may be a baby in utero—and the mother carrying that child. It may be a woman who has suffered domestic abuse and needs shelter, with her children, so she can find a new home with stability.

Those "in need" may also include donors with a need to give—a need fulfilled by supporting Women's Services of Catholic Charities. Those services include Lighthouse Women's Center, a licensed medical center, located across from Planned Parenthood; the Gabriel Project, which has four parish-based locations, providing pregnant women and new mothers with diapers, blankets and other goods and resources; Father Ed Judy House, which provides shelter for homeless women and children; and Project Rachel, our post-abortive counseling, provided through Regina Caeli Clinical Services.

At Lighthouse, women are served with dignity, compassion and medically sound counseling, including free pregnancy testing, free ultrasound imaging and a vast range of referrals. In doing this work, we've realized that those women—and others—may need a continuum of care that includes emergency assistance, shelter, counseling, housing, child care, immigration assistance and victim assistance.

Our Beacon of Hope Gala on March 8 at Wings Over the Rockies is a great way to support Lighthouse and women's services. The inaugural 2012 Lighthouse event raised $150,000. Last year's event raised $250,000. Our goal this year is $500,000, which will allow us to greatly expand our services to women.

The keynote speaker will be Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor and inspiration for the film, "October Baby." Her testimony is powerful. Powerful, too, is the opportunity we have here. We invite you to join the vision and support the Beacon of Hope Gala. If you currently participate—and we deeply appreciate that—I pray that you will redouble your efforts to support this evolution in women's services that's happening right in our own community.

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.

Three things to know about Catholic Charities of Denver

Date 01.28.14

Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, explains its mission of mercy and love in this video.

It is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In providing services, these are the only questions asked: Are you hungry, are you cold, are you tired, are you sick, do you need clothing, do you need a place to sleep?

"We get to do all of that with the mercy and love of Jesus Christ as our guiding principle, the guiding light behind everything that we do," said Smith.

Call to Charity: The joy of giving

Date 01.25.14

(Larry's column appeared in the Dec. 20, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

A mother with developmentally disabled children was flooded out of her mobile home in northern Colorado during the September floods.

Thousands of dollars were raised from a variety of sources to purchase a used mobile home that could be retrofitted with ramps and rails for her family’s needs. But it wasn’t enough money.
So, Catholic Charities recently granted her $10,000 for that purpose. And because you, dear reader, support Catholic Charities, you helped that family find a new home.

In an earlier Call to Charity column, I said I would report back on what your support has accomplished. To date, financial assistance, food and supplies totaling nearly $400,000 have been distributed in the flood zone.

The grant for a mobile home may be one of the most dramatic stories we’ve encountered among the hundreds of people we’ve helped in the disaster aftermath. But it’s just one story of many among the tens of thousands of people served by Catholic Charities through our ministries in shelter services, women’s services, and family and child care services.

The needs sometimes seem to exceed our capacity to meet them. Yet, our work each day is held to this standard: to the degree we see Christ in all of those we serve is the degree to which we succeed.

We are also called to be careful stewards of the funds entrusted to us. Your donations of time, talent and treasure mean the world to us, because — through Catholic Charities — you are sharing your gifts with others. As we enter the final week of Advent and begin to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, I pray that you may find the joy of giving: to your family, to your friends, to all those you meet and to the neediest among us, Christ in disguise.

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

Do you know about state tax credits?

Through state tax credits, you may be able to make a $1,000 donation to Catholic Charities for less than half that amount. See more at www.ccdenver.org/about-tax-credits.

Call to Charity: Many reasons for thanksgiving at Samaritan House

Date 11.26.13

(Larry's column appeared in the Nov. 27, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

Before helping serve a dinner recently for military veterans at Samaritan House in Denver, I sat with a table of men to learn about their lives.

“I'm happy in my apartment out in Aurora now, I've got my dog,” said Chuck, 64, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, referring to Ziggy, his Dachshund. “He's great, he's like my co-pilot. Whenever I'm feeling down, he just jumps up in my lap and he's just all lovey.”

Samaritan House, located at 2301 Lawrence St., is a shelter that houses more than 2,600 men, women and children a year. Chuck stayed there at one point. After back surgery, he recovered at St. Joseph's Home for Veterans, an affiliate of Samaritan House that is a group home for dozens of homeless veterans at 4626 Pennsylvania St.

“They were real good to me over there,” said Chuck. “They were kind of amazed at how fast I was up and about, because they had other guys that had the same surgery that were laid out for months. I think I had one meal delivered to my room. I walked the stairs. I was on the second floor, I'd go downstairs and I'd eat. I wanted to get well. I wanted my back to get well. It hurt, but I went down and ate. I walked.”

Our brothers and sisters walk into Samaritan House every day with very little. Catholic Charities does everything it can to care for them. Some, like Chuck, have found their way to independent living; some haven't. We love them all the same, because they are loved first by God.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I pray that many like Chuck will continue to know the love and charity of Jesus Christ through your generous gifts of time, treasure and talent.
 

Call to Charity: Special Ops for men

Date 10.24.13

Call to Charity: Special Ops for men

(Larry's column appeared in the Sept. 25, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

While visiting a child care center for low-income and homeless families in Denver, I saw a boy about 5 years old shy away from my approach and hide under a table. It took quite a while to coax him out.

My question was to the head of the center: Why? It turns out that such children, often being raised by single moms struggling to get by, may not have an attentive, positive male influence in their lives. What they've experienced with men may be the opposite: absent, threatening or even violent.

We hear a lot about "fatherless families," but when you see a child flinch at even the approach of a man, the numbing statistics take on a sad reality that demands a response.

Here's the plan. We need men in our community to step up and read with these kids, to play with them and just be with them in an environment that's safe. Then those children can experience something they don't see enough from men in their day-to-day lives: attention and security.

We'd like a dozen male volunteers to start this program at Catholic Charities' facilities in the Denver metro area. The time commitment would be one hour a week and we will work with your schedule. Show your interest by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 720-377-1327 and we will connect you with the right people at Catholic Charities to continue the conversation.

Our mission is to serve those with a need to receive and those with a need to give. Spending time with children in need is a great witness to that. For men called to this service, it will fill your hearts.

 

Call to Charity: Can you spare $50 to help disaster survivors?

Date 10.24.13

Call to Charity: Can you spare $50 to help disaster survivors?

(Larry's column appeared in the Oct. 23, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

When we think of the homeless, it's often those on the street and in shelters, people that Catholic Charities seeks to help every day in service to Christ.

There's another group of homeless, those forced out of their homes through disaster, as we all witnessed in September after the flooding in northern Colorado.

"They are living in warehouses, churches or hotels or are crammed into the spare rooms of friends and relatives because there are so few rentals available," The Denver Post reported of more than 300 immigrants, primarily the undocumented.

In Milliken, as Catholic Charities participated in a Coats for Colorado distribution, I heard that a house was taken off the market temporarily in order to allow people to sleep there. If so, that's a remarkable act of charity.

Here's how we can respond. If 1,000 people will donate $50 apiece, that will provide $50,000 toward our outreach in the flood zone, including housing needs and other necessities such as food and clothing assistance. That should help dozens of people get through the coming weeks.

We are working with other organizations on longer-term housing solutions. If you have been abundantly blessed by God, please consider a greater gift to Catholic Charities to help flood disaster survivors rebuild their lives going forward. I'll report back in a future "Call to Charity" column on what your support has accomplished.

To participate, click the "Donate" link below. Donations may also be mailed to: Catholic Charities, 4045 Pecos St., Denver, CO 80211.