Denver, Colo., Dec 14, 2017 / 16:51 pm
It was a chilly Thursday in December, with a dusting of snow on the ground. But that didn’t stop hundreds of poor and homeless people from packing the Denver Cathedral for what the pastor calls “the greatest day of the year” for the parish.
It was the Father Woody Christmas cash giveaway, the annual event when the cathedral hosts a prayer service and gives $20 - in the form of two $10 bills - to all of the poor and the homeless who attend.
The idea behind the two bills? It gives the recipients the option of giving one of the bills away.
“I got kind of a crabby e-mail about this event, saying ‘Why are you giving the homeless money, they’re just going to spend it on alcohol or drugs,’” Fr. Ron Cattany, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Denver, told CNA.
“And I responded back with a line from Father Woody: ‘Everybody needs a little cash in their pocket at Christmas,’” he said.
It gives them a sense of dignity, and a sense of generosity, he added.
“What’s beautiful is that sometimes what you’ll see here...is one of the guys will come up and say, ‘Today’s my birthday, will you give me a bunch of (McDonald’s) cards so I can take my buddies out to lunch on my birthday?’ And of course you do that because even from where they are, they’re giving and sharing with other people,” Cattany said.
The event all started 28 years ago, when an endowment fund was set up in honor and in the spirit of Monsignor Charles B. Woodrich - better known as Fr. Woody - a Denver priest renowned for his generous spirit and can-do attitude.