.- Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver blessed and inaugurated the new Denver headquarters for Christ in the City, a missionary organization for college-aged young people who serve the poor and homeless.
“You are serving the poor. You are being like Christ.” Archbishop Aquila told the lay missionaries, urging them to remember that their sacrifices “must be rooted in love.”
Christ in the City brings together 16 new missionaries, ages 19 to 28, who have made a one semester or one year service commitment. Alongside their work serving the community, they receive spiritual formation and educational training.
The program began in 2009 under the leadership of former Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Catholic Charities. It is now run by the Christian Life Movement at Seton House, a historic building on the former campus of Cathedral High School.
Archbishop Aquila told CNA that Christ in the City is a “tremendous witness” for living the Gospel and bringing it to Denver.
“What I love about the young people is their willingness to sacrifice. They come from all over. And all of them have, in their hearts, a love for Christ and a love for the Church,” he said.
Logan Crotty of Maplewood, Minn. is one of the new missionaries.
Crotty, a recent graduate of the University of St. Thomas, said that she applied to Christ in the City after she considered becoming a teacher in the Teach for America program.
“I was struggling to find satisfaction with some of the philosophies of the organization,” she said. “I was wanting to feed souls, rather than just minds.”
She found what she wanted in Christ and the City during her week-long visit this summer.
Crotty, who speaks Spanish, will work in Hispanic ministries at Denver’s Holy Name Parish and at the Father Ed Judy House, which serves women with children who are homeless or are victims of domestic violence.
Several community and business leaders attended the blessing of the Seton House, a landmark three-story building built in the style of the Spanish Renaissance Revival.
From 1990 to 2009, the location served as a home for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The sisters provided housing and community for up to a dozen AIDS patients at a time, mostly homeless men, before becoming a shelter for homeless women.
Archbishop Aquila and the missionaries are hopeful about the location’s potential.
“I’m so excited about the community here,” Logan said. “Having this space is such a blessing. We’ve already felt how it’s bringing us together not only in recreation and fellowship but in prayer.”
Mark Bauman, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Christ in the City, believes that Seton House is ideal for the organization’s mission.
“Being close to the people we serve makes it that much easier to access them and give them the love and support they need,” he said.
Christ in the City missionaries were previously housed at different locations, but Seton House brings them together in one place.
“Here we’ll be under one roof. We’ll be praying together, meeting together, eating together,” Bauman said. “That sense of community is very important. You need that sense of community to strengthen you to go out and give to others.”
Missionaries from the previous year are helping form and train the newest members.
Archbishop Aquila said the missionaries’ presence at Seton House is “a tremendous sign of hope.” He stressed the importance of beginning outreach to those in need with “the love of God.”
“We must be first rooted in the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Whether it is a poor man, a poor woman, a poor child, it is Christ that we are serving.”
He said Christ in the City missionaries “continue the witness that Bl. Teresa of Calcutta began here.”
In the prayer blessing the buildings, he asked the missionaries to “remember the intercession of all those who have gone before us.”
He said Seton House will be “a house where the love of Christ will bring together those who in charity will serve the poor of our city, relying on the goodness of God.”
The website for Christ in the City is http://christinthecitymissionaries.com.