2015 Annual Statement
“Hence mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects is a sacrifice more acceptable to [God], as conducing more directly to our neighbor’s well-being, according to Hebrews 13:16: “Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such sacrifices God’s favor is obtained.” St. Thomas Aquinas – The Summa Theologica
Dear Friends of Catholic Charities,
Earlier this year Pope Francis announced the Catholic Church will begin its Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 8th “to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.” This announcement comes as we recognize Catholic Charities 70th anniversary of work in our area of Central Florida providing corporal works of mercy to the poor and vulnerable through strategic alliances and a broad array of social services designed to support and preserve families and promote self-sufficiency. Created In 1945 as the Tampa Office for Charity under the auspices of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Catholic Charities’ goal was to relieve the burden on Catholic parishes which were struggling to meet the needs of their poor. One central charity allowed the Church to more efficiently carry out its important works of mercy; including caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, nursing the sick and elderly, and sheltering the homeless. In 1968 the Diocese of St. Petersburg was established and Catholic Charities was created in its present form as a non-profit corporation.
In 2015 Catholic Charities is a $13 million operation, with 176 employees and over 300 volunteers serving more than 15,000 residents. During our 70 years of mercy, we have operated under 3 broad umbrella ministries of mercy – Foundations of Life, Shelters of Hope and Friends in Need – that allow us to live out the gospel mandate, making the Church more visible, welcoming and spiritual.
Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States brought incredible attention to our work as he shared his message of a mercy and his vision of service to those in need. In his address to Congress Francis emphasized how “religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society”. Francis further stated “Our efforts must aim at restoring hope…and… promoting the well-being of all individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.” During his visit with the homeless at Catholic Charities he said, “We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing. The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person. The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head.” As we enter our Year of Mercy in 2016, we celebrate our Holy Father’s words. These are at the core of our mission and values, as we are called to extend Christ’s healing ministry to children, families, seniors and all suffering persons. We recognize and thank the amazing people — the Diocese, our donors, volunteers, staff, and partners — whose dedication and generosity has made our mission possible.