In Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est (“God Is Love”), we learn the true meaning of charity. We learn that it is impossible to separate love and charity, and we learn charity is the responsibility of the Church.
Our Holy Father tells us,
“Love of neighbor, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practice love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community.”
At Catholic Charities, we see the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout our diocese every day. Our food pantries, located in South Bend and Auburn, are just one way we provide immediate relief to help people meet basic needs. Through our Resource and Referral Department in Fort Wayne, we provide further, short-term help with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
Many of our programs and services have a much more far-reaching positive impact on the lives of our clients and the community as a whole.
Refugees and their children are among the vulnerable populations we serve.
One such program is Education Creates Hope and Opportunity (ECHO), a case-management program that helps young women continue their education during pregnancy and while parenting. ECHO clients are much more likely to graduate and successfully support their families than those who do not participate. ECHO clients are also far less likely to rely on public assistance, and that benefits everyone.
Our programs to assist immigrants and refugees have the same long-lasting effects. We help them adjust to life here and to become productive members of the community.
Nearly 80 Burmese refugee children are currently enrolled in our Homework Help after school program. The goal is to make the transition to schools and community here easier. The students range from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Villa of the Woods, our senior residential living center provides low income seniors a beautiful, safe, home. Residents enjoy a private, furnished studio, home-cooked meals, and enjoyable activities. Many of our residents lead active lives volunteering, participating in activities, and visiting with their families.
We have been providing hope to the most vulnerable among us for over 90 years, remembering every day our mission, “Catholic Charities serves those in need as Christ would have us do.”
In this season of reflection and prayer, may we all reflect on the words of Saint Augustine, “If you see charity, you see the Trinity.”