Let’s face it, given what’s going on in the world — in our city, nation and state for that matter — it’s easy to get discouraged.
Persecution against people of various races, colors and creeds continues almost unabated, as if the human race has made little or no progress through the years of strife, war, deprivation and calamity. Catholics around the globe are still facing prejudice, as international and national news reports will tell you. And stories about the clergy sexual abuse scandal seem unending.
But here’s the thing, if you look just a little bit beyond the obvious, if you consider what’s happening in your community that may not be creating headlines or news reports, you’ll see that despite the depressing clouds and seeming lack of societal progress, there is reason for hope.
Lots of reasons, actually.
The Archdiocese of Louisville — and many other organizations in our community who serve the poor and needy — gives us all a plethora of reasons to be proud, to be hopeful, to be optimistic even in times that appear as dark as these.
Consider just one Catholic organization and its work. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has 29 conferences in parishes throughout the archdiocese — and those conferences are supported by more than 800 volunteers. The conferences often supply emergency assistance to those in need; food for hungry families; and the basic necessities of life for people and families who find themselves in need of help.
The society has four thrift stores to provide at reasonable cost the items that fill our homes and apartments; clothes that fill our closets — the “things” of life we take for granted, when we have them.
The society has more than 1,000 volunteers who work at its campus on Jackson Street. It’s there that the Open Hand Kitchen provides more than 12,000 hot meals to the homeless and needy each month. And there are many more Catholic — and non-Catholic — organizations that are carrying out the work that Jesus called us to do.
The St. John Center for Homeless Men has become a fixture in the city’s efforts to help the homeless, and just recently opened a new space where its clients can store their belongings in safety. They might not have much, but the building — the former First Link Market — will keep what they have safe.
Catholic Charities of Louisville helps the community in ways that are almost too numerous to count. Its Migration and Refugee Services alone aids hundreds of people from abroad who are looking for new beginnings for their families.
The agency’s Sister Visitor along with St. Mary’s Center, Franciscan Shelter House, St. Anthony Center, the Catholic Enrichment Center, the Little Sisters of the Poor and the dozens of other religious orders of women who have been serving this community for generations — these are just a few of the groups of people doing God’s work and giving the rest of us cause for hope.
In the community in general, Louisville Area Community Ministries — in which Catholic parishes participate — have been on the frontlines of providing aid and comfort to those who need it. Others doing good work include:
The Jefferson County Office of Community Action; Gifts of Mercy, Inc.; Louisville Metro Human Ministries; The Mabel Wiggins Center; The Salvation Army of Louisville and Operation Care, Inc.
There are scores of other organizations that could be included on this list if we only had the space. But one group we should never overlook (though we often do) is the clergy of the archdiocese.
If we think about it, we all know someone who has been helped by a personal encounter with a priest; people who have been given a hand to hold when the walk along life’s path has become most difficult.
Forget all the bad news for a moment and think about the countless numbers of priests who have performed acts of kindness and mercy selflessly, without the need for praise or attention.
The bottom line is there are a great many people doing good and much-needed work throughout our archdiocese, throughout our community. So despite what we may think or feel when the news of the day threatens to cover us with gloom, remember these people.
They give us cause for hope.
Record Editor Emeritus