ANDY BARTON

CEO, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado
June 21, 2019  |  By ANDY BARTON

As a convert to Catholicism — my family and I were confirmed on Easter in 2015 — one of the questions I am asked most often by other Catholics is how I feel about the clergy sex scandal. My answer is always the same: it did not change my faith then and does not now. When I made the decision to join the Church, I was aware of the findings that had come to light in 2002. But those revelations had not changed what my family and I had experience while worshipping at an incredible parish for three years before we decided to convert. The “scandal” had no impact on the supportive community, the beauty of the Mass, or our interaction with the parish staff and clergy who welcomed us as members.


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April 19, 2019  |  By ANDY BARTON
I love my neighbors.  They are an older couple who have lived in the house next door for over 40 years.  She bakes us the most incredible cakes in exchange for shoveling their walks.  He waves to me in the mornings when we are out getting our respective newspapers. By virtue of our shared property line, we look out for and take care of each other. 
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March 1, 2019  |  By ANDY BARTON
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy released a report in December entitled “Overlooked & Undercounted 2018” with very little fanfare. The information in the report is hugely important in understanding the reality of poverty in our communities, especially for families. The main takeaway is that the data used in defining poverty is flawed, leading to a dramatically understated number of families who are struggling to get by.
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December 21, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
Amid the celebrations of Christmastime, it is easy to forget that the arrival of Jesus came with a significant amount of discomfort for the people around him — starting with Mary, who gave birth in a manger (as my wife reminds me, giving birth is no day at the spa under the best circumstances). Our modern imagery of the nativity likely does not capture how hard it would have been for a young girl to deliver her first child, miles from her home, surrounded by livestock. So too for the three wise men who left the comfort of their homes to journey across the desert with gifts for the newborn king. For Mary and for the Magi, leaving their comfort zones was a matter of faith, done unquestionably in response to the gift that God had given.
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December 7, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
Over the past 12 months, the Herald has given Catholic Charities an opportunity to summarize our work, achievements, and memories from the past 50 years.  In our final 50th Anniversary article, we want to share a glimpse of our vision for the future by highlighting a few of our developing initiatives:
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October 19, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
Last January, I spent a day surveying individuals who were living in homeless camps in Colorado Springs.  I was there as a part of the “Point In Time” count, a yearly attempt to quantify the number of individuals experiencing homelessness.  The count is required of any community receiving federal funding to address the issue. I participated along with four other volunteers and we visited camps in various parts of the city, spending about 10 minutes with each individual as we asked the questions on our survey.
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August 17, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
Earlier this summer, when the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border captured the attention of the nation, a friend of mine and former police officer, made an apologetic explanation of why he felt the actions by the federal government were justified. Prefacing his statement with “I’m sorry, but . . . ,” he rationalized that children are removed from parents who commit a crime all the time under the United States legal system. Since these families were crossing the border illegally, he maintained, the parents were subject to the same criminal consequences as anyone else in the United States.
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June 15, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
In his most recent Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate,” Pope Francis has given the faithful a practical guide to holiness.  “(Jesus) wants us to be saints” our Pope writes, “and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. . . My modest goal is to re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.”  One might assume that a guide to holiness is full of rules and prescriptions on ways to live, but that is not the case with Pope Francis.  As with his other writing, Gaudete et Exsultate is more of a thoughtful conversation than it is a lecture, and this one reflects its title which translates to “Rejoice and Be Glad.” 
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April 20, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
My mother-in-law, Kathy, and father-in-law, Rich, have taken in foster children for as long as I have known them.  I lose count of the number that have come through their care.  Some stayed only a few weeks; others lived in their home for years. Through adoption, two of the girls have become my sisters-in-law. 
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February 16, 2018  |  By ANDY BARTON
It seems to be getting worse” is generally the opinion that people share with me regarding homelessness in Colorado Springs.  We honestly do not know whether that is the case, but I walk and drive around the city enough to understand the sentiment.  Last month, providers and volunteers fanned out across the community for the annual Point In Time Count to capture data on the actual number of homeless in the city.  Those results will be released this spring.   Even that quantitative data will be open to interpretation; a rise in the number last year was attributed to better methodology and not to a dramatic uptick in population.  The same could end up being true this year. 
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December 18, 2017  |  By ANDY BARTON
“Somebody is going to hurt.” That is the way one Congressional staffer characterized the state of our federal budget to me this summer. Discretionary spending on social programs like Head Start, Community Development Block Grants, and SNAP food assistance face dramatic cuts that could impact El Paso County non-profits by over $50 million annually. These programs are pitted against spending on infrastructure and the military, and without raising taxes there is not enough money to go around. Any resolution on the budget is guaranteed to be met with significant pushback from one side or the other of the political spectrum.
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October 20, 2017  |  By ANDY BARTON
Like many Americans, I can trace a line in my ancestry to the “Catholic hordes,” though I have never said it that way. The term is antiquated, once representing a majority sentiment of mid-19th century Americans who actively protested immigration in their time. 
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August 18, 2017  |  By ANDY BARTON
A recent study, paid for by a cannabis advocacy group, is touting the positive economic impact of legal marijuana in Colorado. The group’s goal is to convince voters in cities like Colorado Springs to allow for the recreational sale of the drug. There are smart, thoughtful people on both sides of this debate and perhaps even more who do not give it much thought. Yet, from a Catholic perspective as well as that of an agency working on the front lines with our poor and homeless, it is clear that legalizing marijuana is bad for our community, and it is particularly bad for those we serve.
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June 16, 2017  |  By ANDY BARTON
Lists are everywhere in what I have been reading lately.  From “The Best Books of Summer” to “15 Ways to Improve Personal Finances,” there is no shortage of ideas this time of year of ways to spend our time and enhance our lives.  In the spirit of those lists, I thought I would do my own this month around ways to integrate charity into daily routine.  Many of you will find you are already engaged in one or more of these activities.  Not everything is for everyone, but hopefully it will give some ideas, spur some thought, and maybe even conversation.
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April 21, 2017  |  By ANDY BARTON
One of the most hope filled moments of the year for our poor and vulnerable came at the Easter Vigil last Saturday night when we welcomed our catechumens into the church. These new Catholic faithful are cause for celebration for so many reasons, but the greatest may be what they mean for charity. As Pope Paul VI writes in “Divinae Consortium Naturae”: “By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.” These newly initiated men, women, and children are reinforcements in the battle against the colossal specter of poverty in our community.
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