St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church is a safe place to gather, commune, and worship. To protect our parishioners and keep our campus safe and prepared for natural disasters and acts of physical evil, a group of parishioners have banded together to create the Emergency Response Team (ERT).
Jeff Bennis is the head of the ERT and considers safety the top priority of the team when the parish gathers for prayer and fellowship.
“Our mission is to protect the parishioners of St. Francis from natural disasters and bad actors who should not be on our campus,” Jeff says.
Unfortunately, our society has seen an increase in violence and the political atmosphere of Colorado has grown tense after the abortion ruling. In response to the escalating violence — including attacks on Catholic Churches throughout the state and the 2021 attack on the Cathedral in Denver that caused about $1 million in damage — Archbishop Samuel Aquila has instructed all parishes in the diocese to create a response team to keep Church communities safe.
The ERT is our response team that has created emergency action plans to lead parishioners through an orderly response to a disaster and to put preventative measures in place to ensure a safe place of worship.
“We provide security,” Jeff says. “There is always a portion of the ERT at each weekend Mass to stay vigilant. We go to Church and look for things that don’t look right and make sure to be present when things look out of place.”
Generally, there are no issues and the presence of the ERT should not alarm anyone as they go to Mass. Instead, the ERT acts as guardians and good neighbors looking out for each of us as we pray and gather to glorify God.
In addition to Mass security, the ERT has developed evacuation plans and response protocols in case of natural disasters like tornadoes.
St. Francis has other unique safety concerns regarding wildlife.
“We have fruit trees that attract bears to our campus,” Jeff says. “There is currently a mother and her two cubs living on and around our campus. It is important for us to notify parishioners of their presence and to make them aware of this risk.”
It is also the ERT who act as the first responders in case of a medical emergency.
“It is common for a parishioner or guest to not eat or drink enough before coming to Mass, causing them to pass out,” Jeff says. “We are there to help assist that person before an ambulance arrives.”
The ERT is always looking for more members to join the ranks and keep our parish safe. Those who join the team will receive training that is approved by the diocese.
“Safety is everyone’s concern,” Jeff says. “Everyone plays a part in keeping our Church safe, and it is as easy as being vigilant and looking out for each other.”
If you are interested in learning more about or joining ERT, call the parish office at 303-688-3025.