Catholic Charities Centennial
Celebrating the permanence of Christ’s
love throughout a century of change
By REBECCA FORD
Catholic Social Service
Every so often, I bet each of us has those moments when we feel a need to pause, rise up from under the canopy of daily life and take a better look at the broader landscape of where we’ve come from and where we’re going. New Year celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries and jubilees are just a few of the moments that lend themselves to such reflection.
The Catholic Charities Centennial that we celebrate this year is one of those moments, and a lot has happened over the past 100 years.
The change is mind-boggling when you think about it. We’ve gone from horses, rifles, simple automobiles, and freighters to hybrid vehicles, cruise ships, airliners, atomic bombs, and space shuttles. Our life expectancy has risen from 50 to 78. Our quality of life has been enriched by radio, television, antibiotics, frozen food, computers, the internet, and mobile smartphones. We’ve gone from ABC, NBC and CBS to Myspace, YouTube and Facebook. We’ve replaced the annual set of Britannica Encyclopedias with the online Wikipedia in more than 200 languages. We now have access to about 15.15 billion web pages, 100,000 iPhone apps, 10,500 radio stations, 5,500 magazines, and 200-plus cable television networks. It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to encounter in an entire lifetime prior to the 20th Century. And yet, there are some things that don’t change. Even though America has become one of the richest countries in the world, consuming more than one-fourth of the world’s goods and services, our poverty rate hasn’t dipped below 10 percent for decades. Today, 39.8 million Americans live in poverty, which was equal to about $22,025 for a family of four in 2008.
But there is something else that hasn’t changed, either: Christ’s enduring love, and the Catholic Charities’ mission to reduce poverty, support families, empower communities, and to be “attorney for the poor,” regardless of the changing times and seasons. Today, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA, formally the National Conference of Catholic Charities) is recognized as one of the nation’s largest social service networks, with 90 percent of every dollar going directly to programs and services. Catholic Charities’ agencies provide help and create hope for more than nine million people of all faiths each year. Truly, we have much to celebrate on this Catholic Charities Centennial Celebration.
But the cycle of poverty remains and has even increased over the last few years. That is why Catholic Charities Agencies across the country have chosen to celebrate our centennial anniversary by renewing our commitment to truly reduce poverty in our country. We have initiated a campaign to reduce poverty by 50 percent by the year 2020. For more information, and to endorse the campaign, please visit our website at http://catholicsocialservice.org/social-justice/issues-and-resources/poverty.
In the meantime, please join Catholic Social Service on Catholic Charities Sunday, Sept. 25-26, as we pause to review, reflect on, and celebrate 100 years of service to those most in need.