Pope Francis has said, “Charity is at the heart of the church, it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission.”
It’s also the soul of our mission at Catholic Charities of Louisville.
Since 1939, Catholic Charities has worked tirelessly to carry out the social ministry of the church, expanding programming along the way to meet the evolving needs of a growing client base across the Archdiocese of Louisville.
As of today, we operate 10 programs, restoring hope to struggling families, immigrants and refugees, elderly individuals in need of an advocate, human-trafficking survivors, the unemployed, formerly incarcerated individuals, and many others who are living on the edges of society.
We are an integral part of the archdiocese, and we are at a crossroads: As our size and scope has grown, so too has our need for a new headquarters. This is why we recently launched our Building a Brighter Future Capital Campaign to help fund the construction of a Catholic Charities Center.
For many years, Catholic Charities poured its funds into programming, deferring expensive maintenance on the aging re-purposed parish buildings from which it operates. Today, at both of two campuses — Holy
Name on South Fourth Street and the former St. Anthony parish on West Market Street — Catholic Charities facilities are inefficient for the work we do, largely inaccessible to people with disabilities, and woefully expensive to operate.
During the winter, staff and visitors stay bundled up in coats and gloves at our Fourth Street offices, since indoor temperatures have been known to dip below 40 degrees. Meanwhile, 15 minutes away on West
Market Street, the windows may be open in our only large conference room, located above the boiler. Rainstorms have produced indoor waterfalls at Fourth Street, where the attic houses a system of buckets and tarps under the holes in the roof.
At West Market Street, the three-story buildings have neither elevator nor wheelchair lift; at Fourth Street, those essential features frequently stop working.
The buildings from which we operate have done good service to the people of the archdiocese for many years. But today, they are hindering our ability to serve people with respect for human dignity in accordance with Catholic social doctrine.
A new Catholic Charities Center will provide much-needed space to do more — more prenatal classes for expecting mothers; more support for refugee families who now call Louisville home; more help for survivors of human trafficking; more employment assistance, culinary skills training, and community gardens. The list goes on.
Our current facilities have literally no more space to expand our current programs or house new ones, which is why this campaign is about far more than bricks and mortar — it’s about building a brighter future for the clients we serve.
In his first encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.” The Holy Father proclaimed that love for the poor and vulnerable is central to Catholic life, noting that the “exercise of charity” is one of the church’s three essential activities.
At Catholic Charities, we firmly believe this, and we encourage you to share the journey with us as we carry out this mission. To learn more about our Building a Brighter Future campaign, please visit https://cclou.org/building-a-brighter-future/.
Lisa DeJaco Crutcher is the chief executive officer and executive director of Catholic Charities of Louisville.