Christ in the City calls young missionaries to serve Denver's poor

.- Christ in the City, a missionary ministry for young adults, is preparing to launch a year-long program for Catholics to serve the poor in Denver, Colorado.

“We found out that it was as powerful as mission trips overseas for the transformation of the lives of the missionaries themselves,” said Dr. Jonathan Reyes,  president of Catholic Charities in Denver and co-founder of Christ in the City.

The program – beginning in August of this year – will teach young, Catholic adults what it means to be a missionary in the U.S., while focusing on the spiritual, intellectual and charitable formation of the participants.

With new training and formation, Christ in the City hopes participants will take what they learn and return to their own cities to serve the poor in their home states.

“Why it's different from a lot of programs is that it's intensely formative for the missionaries themselves,” Reyes told CNA.

“There is a lot of investment in their spiritual life, there's a lot of investment in their intellectual life. So it's the formation to take back, to be capable of doing this kind of work in any number of other places.”

Program director Yvonne Noggle noted that Christ in the City “serves people from the beginning of life to the end of life.”

She added that the charitable formation can include serving in a crisis pregnancy center with new or expecting mothers, working in a homeless shelter with the poor and hungry, or assisting Denver's Little Sisters of the Poor in caring for the elderly.

Reyes views the pilot program in 2010 as a success, saying that of the 45 students that participated, “pretty much all of them went back to their own communities and got involved.”

“The impact wasn't just here, but it was back where they had come from,” Reyes said. “So it isn't 'missionaries come have a nice experience,' its 'missionaries come have a nice experience and be trained to be able to do this in other places.' It doesn't end in a year, our goal is that it perdures in the missionaries themselves for the rest of their lives.”

Christ in the City hopes to repeat that success as it expands by offering an opportunity to its participants to live and serve in Denver for either a semester or a full year beginning Aug. 1.

“We're looking for college-aged Catholics between 19 and 25 years old,” said Noggle, adding that participants can be current students or recent graduates. “We've had people from Minnesota, New York, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kansas, and all over, come to serve here.”

The missionaries' will be provided with food, shelter, and plenty of work assisting the poor in Denver. They will also be educated in service and leadership with classes, and will have an opportunity to immerse themselves into their Catholic faith and spirituality.

In a world full of distractions, Noggle says that Christ in the City offers something valuable to its participants: “two weeks or one year to devote their entire life to Christ.”

Christ in the City is still accepting applications for the semester and year long program, although Noggle said their roster “is nearly full.”

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