Fifty years ago, when I was a child growing up in St. Louis, I never could have imagined the path that lay ahead. At the time, I was a carefree 13-year-old, and although my family lived modestly to make ends meet, I had everything I needed: a comfortable home, food on the table, books for school.
At the time, I had no idea there were people who went without these essentials, and I certainly never fathomed I would devote much of my life to assisting them — from working as a missionary in Chile, to serving struggling families in west Louisville. It’s in the latter role that I continue to share the journey with all who seek help from the Sister Visitor Center, which has been an integral part of west Louisville now for 50 years.
Sister Visitor is an emergency assistance program operated by Catholic Charities of Louisville, providing food, clothes, assistance with rent, utilities, furniture, medicines and more.
This mission began in 1969, when the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth — many of whom taught in West End Catholic schools — had become increasingly concerned by the rising number of students arriving each morning hungry and dressed in dirty clothes, or missing school altogether due to troubles at home. Sister Visitor was created to help these families in crisis find hope.
Catholic Charities officially took over the agency in 1991. Now in its 50th year, Sister Visitor continues to serve as an emergency crisis center for the Portland, Shawnee and Russell neighborhoods, three of the poorest parts of Jefferson County. Our staff and volunteers assist more than 700 individuals each month, helping to meet a wide variety of needs: stocking a kitchen with healthy food, providing diapers and formula, assisting with an overdue heating bill, guiding someone to a job prospect… and the list goes on.
The heart of the Sister Visitor Center lies in the command of Christ to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless. Sister Visitor has carried out this mission for five decades — and as long as there is need, we will continue to do so. But we could not do it without the help of compassionate parishes and our dedicated volunteers. We’re grateful for the support we have received over the years and would like to encourage others to consider getting involved.
Finally, I would like to invite all of you to join us for a special service honoring our 50th anniversary. The Sister Visitor Prayer Service takes place Friday, Oct. 18, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Rd.
I am blessed each and every day to be a source of hope for many people, and I pray that we can continue to enrich the lives of the people we serve through the Grace of God.
Sister Michele Intravia is the director of Catholic Charities’ Sister Visitor Center, an emergency assistance program that provides the most basic of human needs. She is an Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph.