As CEO of Catholic Charities, I travel from northern Pinal County to the Nevada-border town of Bullhead City to meet with Catholic Charities staff, community partners and the people we serve in central and northern Arizona.
I wish you could come with me on one of these road trips, especially this month as we celebrate our 83rd anniversary. When you meet a vulnerable family face-to-face, there is nowhere to hide your heart. You look them in the eyes and feel their struggle. It motivates you to serve.
It breaks down the wall that Pope Francis mentions when he says, “We have become used to the suffering of others. … We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion.”
You can’t really turn away when you walk with another person in their suffering. I’m glad to report that there is a lot of walking going on with the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholic Charities and our communities’ most vulnerable.
As the social services arm of the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholic Charities is searching every day to help the homeless, refugee families, the domestically abused, children in foster care, veterans and so many others. We have more than 450 staff working 22 programs assisting more than 100,000 people living with hunger, a lack of shelter, and for some, like our sex-trafficked survivors, even the threat of death. For some of our clients, like children, it’s getting them into a home or classroom to help them succeed.
In this work, Christ is with us. You are there, too — and so is your parish. Catholic Charities works hand-in-hand with more than 30 parishes and that number is growing every day. Together, Catholic Charities and parishes like St. Louis the King and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale are providing afterschool care for low-income families at Catholic Charities’ affordable housing, Ironwood Apartments. St. Benedict and St. Theresa are doing the same at Catholic Charities’ Verde Villas apartments in Phoenix (see p. 6).
We have many parishes in the Valley of the Sun, Prescott, Cottonwood and Flagstaff helping with our work. We couldn’t accomplish what we do without this assistance. With more than 4,000 volunteers providing an estimated value of more than $5 million in manpower, it just wouldn’t be possible to reach as many people without these relationships.
Learn more about Catholic Charities Community Services: catholiccharitiesaz.org
So as we celebrate our 83rd Anniversary in September, I’d like you to celebrate, too. This milestone is also about you as a volunteer, as a donor, as a Catholic praying for our communities. It’s about the relationships that opened our doors in 1933 to help at-risk children in Phoenix. Because of partnerships and people who cared, Catholic Charities continued to open offices up north in Cottonwood, Flagstaff and Prescott to serve youth, veterans, foster care children and the homeless.
Our work now expands into Bullhead City, where we opened an office there this year. Our staff helped organize churches and others helping the homeless, so we could serve together and not overlap efforts. In Flagstaff, we recently opened the Juniper House to serve women coming out of jail and help rebuild their lives and lower their risk of reoffending.
Our impact continues to grow as we build more relationships and put new services into place. An easy way for you to help keep this work expanding this year is the Foster Care Charitable Giving tax credit. It is similar to the private school tax credits, but you can give it to keep funding our work. You can learn more about this tax credit and our work by visiting our website CatholicCharitiesAZ.org. It’s a good way to read more about all the relationships it takes to be Christ’s hands and feet to those suffering and vulnerable in our Diocese.