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Catholic Charities

Catholics Charities is the outstretched arm of service and hope for the Catholic Church. Across the U.S., Catholic Charities USA encompasses a total of 171 Catholic Charities member agencies, including two in Mississippi. Catholic Charities USA was founded to promote the work of the diocesan Catholic Charity bureaus and bring a sense of solidarity to those charitable ministries. The national foundation’s highest priority is to combat poverty, support families, and empower communities through the advocacy of traditional values while each agency provides tailored services needed within their local community. Catholic Charities can trace its roots back to 1727 when the French Ursuline sisters opened an orphanage in New Orleans, LA. Around the same time, more Catholic institutions were established along the East Coast in major cities to assist orphaned children whose parents were lost to disease and tragedies common in early America. Similarly, the Catholic Charities agency in Jackson stemmed from two Natchez orphanages, St. Mary’s Orphanage for girls and D’Evereax Hall for boys; both were opened in the 1850s. In the early 1960s, a national movement to create a more home-like environment for orphaned and abandoned children in child services initiated the transfer of children from group homes and orphanages to private foster homes. When the orphanages were forced to close in 1962, a Catholic social services agency was formed in Jackson to help those children find foster homes and then permanent homes. That agency was incorporated the next year and officially became part of the Catholic Charities community.

Catholic Charities of Jackson has broadened its services since the 1960s; however, it is still very active in social services for children including continued assistance with foster care and adoption services. The agency includes programs under 12 different categories: Adoptions and Maternity, Alcohol and Drug, Child Services, Domestic Violence, Immigration, Refugee Services, Rape Crisis, Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter, Counseling Services, Family Ministry, Health Ministry, and Social Ministry. Many of these programs are sponsored by state agencies such as the Department of Human Services and the Department of Mental Health. Catholic Charities also works with other non-profit organizations, such as United Way, to provide services and disaster relief and also works with the local legislature to preserve traditional morals and values within our society. During a legislative session, Catholic Charities lobbies for the upholding of traditional values in state legislation such as pro-life, poverty assistance, as well as legislation that may affect the operations of a Catholic Charities program.

Catholic Charities of Jackson provides services for 64 counties within the state; the additional 18 counties are covered by the Biloxi agency but the two work together during times of need such as after Hurricane Katrina. There are two satellite offices to assist Jackson with the 64-county undertaking; those offices are located in Vardeman and Natchez.

Catholic Charities, nationally, uses 90 percent of all donations to support service programs. According to the Catholic Charities USA website, a total of 7,736,855 people in the U.S. were helped through Catholic Charities programs regardless of religious, social, or economic background. As expressed by Rebecca Harris, Development Director for Catholic Charities of Jackson, “We provide our services because of our faith, not because of the recipient’s faith”.

Catholic Charities provides a variety of opportunities for the community to support its ministry. It will host the Bishop’s Ball fundraiser on June 5, 2009 and in October hosts the annual Journey for Hope Luncheon. It also hosts several smaller fundraisers and collection drives throughout the year with the help of local churches and organizations.

“Our mission is to be the visible sign of love to those most in need; it guides us in selecting the services and advocacy work that we do.”-Gregory Patin, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Jackson.

For more information on the specific services provided by Catholic Charities Jackson or to get involved, visit www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org or call 601-355-8634.

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