85 years of encountering, serving Jesus in our community’s most vulnerable

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Paul S. Mulligan is president and CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services and a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix.

“Catholic Charities Community Services.” The name really says it all.

As the bishop’s charitable and social service arm of the Diocese of Phoenix, we are Catholic in mission and identity, and in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, we serve our community’s most vulnerable.

This month, we are excited to celebrate our 85th anniversary! That’s 85 years of providing nationally-accredited, life-changing services and support to vulnerable individuals and families throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.

Hopefully you are already familiar with our faith-based work: We strengthen families, protect and nurture children, serve the poor and marginalized and help people in crisis find safety, stability and ultimately thrive.

While quite a bit has changed, both in our society and in our growing agency, some of the important work Catholic Charities does today still resembles what we were doing back in 1933.

Our original focus was on orphaned children who, through no fault of their own, were being placed in reformatories and had no opportunity to experience love in a healthy, supportive family environment. That social challenge gave birth to our foster care and adoption program.

Catholic Charities still serves foster children today, going to great lengths to provide compassion and promote family life for children who have experienced trauma or abuse or who have arrived from war-torn countries with no relative or guardian to care for them.

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Veterans (Northern Arizona)

Veterans (Phoenix)

Domestic Violence

Over these past 85 years we have continued to grow stronger in our recognition of the dignity, sanctity and value of every human being, from conception until natural death.

Today, for example, we embrace military veterans who proudly served our country, yet have no home, no family and no place to go. We reach out to women who have been abused, or young mothers who had been dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, and we provide shelter and hope for them and their children. We serve those coming out of jail and facing the challenges of re-entering society.

We provide affordable housing and create genuine communities for low-income families and for persons who are elderly, disabled or who have serious mental illness.

For several years in the 1970s, Catholic Charities, through the Foundation for Senior Adult Living, provided housing and services for seniors throughout the Phoenix area. (courtesy of Catholic Charities Community Services)

Over the decades, we have been fortunate to receive tremendous support from our Catholic community — from the Miracle Projects led by students working for social justice at our Catholic schools, to parish ministries that provide emotional, material and financial assistance for those experiencing homelessness and victims of sex trafficking or domestic violence, as well as other vulnerable individuals. In all these cases, we answer Christ’s call to not just serve those in need, but to walk together in genuine “encounter.”

This 85th anniversary, we want you to celebrate with us!

As we reflect this month on our origins and our destination, we recognize that we could not carry out Jesus’ call to find Him “in the least of our brothers and sisters” without a robust community of faith-filled volunteers, partners, donors and team members. Please visit our special anniversary website to learn more and to register for one of our celebrations.