Catholic Charities' service recognized - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Catholic Charities’ service recognized

This afternoon at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and two weeks from today in Corning, we will have celebrations honoring incoming and outgoing board members of the several Catholic Charities agencies that serve the people of our diocese.

I am immensely pleased to participate in such an event. It affords me an opportunity to thank generous and gifted people for years of dedicated service to Catholic Charities; it gives me an opportunity to affirm and encourage the women and men who are willing to continue the work. It is important for all of us to do that. If we take such gifts or such commitment for granted, we can too easily lose our awareness that the generous women and men are putting their faith into action on behalf of sisters and brothers in need.

How do they do that? They give of themselves to live out, to serve the elements of the three-fold mission of Catholic Charities: to provide quality, direct services; to empower people to advocate for public policies which enable people to achieve their full human potential; and to collaborate with faith communities of all denominations to address issues of need and concern.

The elements of advocacy and ecumenical and interfaith cooperation mentioned above have formed expression in our faith tradition for a long time. But it is only in the last 40 years or so that they have been explicitly and formally a part of the mission of Catholic Charities.

I think that evolution is to the great credit of all of our mothers and fathers in faith — even back to the establishment of our diocese in 1868. Concern for the neighbor in need has always been a strong part of our local tradition. But, so has the willingness to meet the needs of changing times and our ability to expand the mission of Catholic Charities.

It’s not just the mission statement that has expanded. Our organization has expanded, too, for the purpose of bringing its services as close to the people as we can.

For example, shortly after I arrived in the diocese in 1979, the only formalized, physical presence of Catholic Charities, Catholic Family Center, was located in Monroe County. Perceiving the need to expand that presence, Bishop Hogan with his usual vision and courage invited a group to explore new possibilities. That group presented me with a “Plan For the Future of Catholic Charities.” That document provided the blueprint to the decentralization of Catholic Charities and its physical presence in every part of the diocese.

Together, our 10 subsidiaries and two affiliates serve 250,000 people in our diocese, employ 1,000 people and have a consolidated annual budget of more than $50 million.

With the resources, our Catholic Charities agencies feed the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless, serve children and families at risk, provide counseling to those who are troubled, serve those saddled with addictions, help to normalize the lives of people who are mentally retarded and developmentally disabled, provide support to people who struggle with mental illness or physical disability such as those resulting from traumatic brain injury.

The list of the work of our Catholic Charities is long and noble — even before we mention their advocacy on behalf of those in need.

For such reasons, I am deeply pleased to gather with our staff and generous volunteers on the occasion of these boards convening. It is an opportunity to recognize and thank them for their remarkable service. More importantly, it is a moment in which to thank God that our diocese is blessed with the presence of such generous people.

Peace to all.

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