Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago turns 100 years old this year, a milestone worthy of much celebration.
Catholic Charities was founded just days after President Woodrow Wilson declared that the U.S. would be entering World War I. This was a time when people were turning to the Church for help in numbers not seen before. Women were left alone to care for their homes and families while men were drafted to fight in the war. Many children were left orphaned and homeless as a sweeping flu epidemic killed 381 Chicagoans in a single day. There were also race-related clashes over housing in Chicago, as jobs created by the war increased the city’s diverse population.
Today, with honor, we carry on the tradition and work that first began in Chicago’s gritty intersection of Des Plaines and Randolph. Every 30 seconds, someone turns to Catholic Charities for help. We are the largest Catholic Charities agency in the country and one of the largest private, non-profit social service agencies in the Midwest. And while that is a remarkable achievement and testament to the work we do and trust given to us, I am most proud that each person who turns to us at their greatest time in need is treated as an individual, with compassion and care.
When someone walks through our doors or calls for assistance, the only question we ask is “How can we help you?” We treat each person with respect and dignity, looking in their eyes and providing them with hope.
We do our work because we believe in our mission and values. We believe that each person deserves a better future. We believe that even when a person feels helpless, they should never feel hopeless. And for that reason, this year we celebrate “A Century of Hope.”
In the coming year there will be times of celebration, special events, and recognition for this milestone anniversary. Our centennial celebration allows us time to reflect on our rich history, be proud of our present, and reaffirm our commitment to the next century of providing help and hope to those who need us most.
May God bless you and your families,