As Pope Francis arrives in the United States in a few weeks Catholic Charities will be garnering national attention. This is all due to the core mission and vision of the Church and our Holy Father’s immense commitment to communicating to the world our passion for serving the poor, the vulnerable, the homeless, the elderly, the immigrant, the refugee and all those needing our mercy and service. On December 8th Pope Francis opens the heart of all by beginning a “Year of Mercy” for the Catholic Church. Who is the greatest deliverer of Mercy for the Church? It is each and every one of us who work, volunteer and minister through Catholic Charities. We are the Social Ministry of the Catholic Church whose sole job is to carry out our Gospel mandate to serve with mercy those suffering from all of life’s challenges. We are the Church “in action”. As the bible clearly states in the Letter of St. James (2:15-17):
“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works is dead.”
Catholic Charities is ALIVE with its works. In the last year, our Shelters of Hope Ministry successfully housed more than 51% of homeless individuals and families who were in our emergency temporary shelters and we are on the verge of adding 76 new units of permanent supportive housing at Pinellas Hope, completing this construction by years end. In our Foundations of Life Ministry we saved 32 babies from abortion at the Knights Women’s Center and placed 13 children in the homes of adoptive parents. In our Friends in Need Ministry we resettled more than 217 refugees into the Tampa Bay area, contributing to our community being nationally recognized as a “Welcoming Community”. To see how our Catholic Charities leads the nation in Mercy and receives worldwide attention read this link from a story in the Tampa Bay Times about our Blessings for our refugee brothers and sisters: http://fw.to/E87D1IY.
We shared this news at our recent “Annual Meeting” with our Board of Trustees and have finally completed our new Strategic Direction and Strategic Goals for FY2016-FY2018. I will be sharing these goals with you shortly. At our Annual Meeting we also take precious time to honor and recognize our Angels who help and support our ministry beyond belief. This year we recognized our retiring Board member Ray King for his decades of service; Clarity Services for donating incredible amounts of time and treasure at Pinellas Hope and for building our new “Welcome Center”; and Eugene Williams, Pasco County Homeless Coalition Director, for his years of support to Catholic Charities. Finally, I am blessed to spend time in September with my friends and colleagues who serve and work in our shared Church Ministry at Catholic Charities. I will be attending our Annual Gathering in Omaha beginning September 9th and celebrating Mass with the Holy Father in Washington DC on September 23rd. Please continue to pray for each other as we lead our country in delivering MERCY to all those who come to us in need.