March 1, 2017
By Sister Donna Franklin, D.C.
Catholic Charities throughout New York State was established by an Act of the Legislature in 1917. Five years later, in 1922, the Diocese of Ogdensburg named Msgr. James Lacey as the first official Diocesan Director; he served in that role until 1942.
The mission of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Ogdensburg is to respond to people in need, to invite people to join us in the works of charity and justice and to empower people to build bridges to healthier lives.
Building on a firm foundation of adoption services and direct assistance, Catholic Charities has grown. Programs and services have been developed in response to the identified unmet needs in our North Country communities.
The 1970’s brought an enhanced understanding of the work of Catholic Charities. The Catholic Charities directors developed a new direction for Catholic Charities agencies. The Cadre Report was published in which two aspects of Christian service were highlighted: direct service and advocacy.
The reality that individuals and families need services and programs was the one aspect.
Advocacy and working for systemic change was the second aspect of service.
The dual goals of responding to people in need and working to change the policies and structures that maintain people in poverty became integrated into the mission of Catholic Charities throughout the United States.
The agency made a commitment to organize and educate people in advocating for public policies that respect the sanctity of human life, support families and work for the common good. That commitment remains an integral part of the current mission and work of Catholic Charities in the North Country.
Catholic Charities has a compelling and inspiring story to tell. During this 100th anniversary year we will be sharing our story in the North Country Catholic and other media sources.
We will be sharing stories of historical successes, such as the account of Msgr. Robert Lawler and Alex Velto and their amazing feat of organizing the building of 40 housing units throughout the North Country.
Catholic Charities appreciates the support of the clergy and the religious men and women of the diocese. Collaboration with the parishes and other organizations, like the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and the St. Vincent De Paul Societies continues to be a priority for Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities remains committed to our Catholic identity.
We are able to maintain ours services and works, as a Catholic agency, because of the generosity of our many benefactors. Each gift makes a difference. The compassion and caring of our benefactors has provided a financial foundation for Catholic Charities since its very first days of service.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the organized works of charity and justice through Catholic Charities reminds us that we are called to messengers of hope, bearers of light and witnesses to Christ love for all of our brothers and sisters in need.