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April 30, 2017

Monsignor Michael Boland

The cure for violence in our community is Christ’s peace

During the season of Easter, we celebrate the tremendous opportunities for rebirth and renewal that the Risen Christ brings to us. Our Lenten preparations have re-energized our commitment to our faith, and we begin a new season of grace and a time of joy and thanksgiving. Especially as it coincides with spring and the great “rebirth” of nature, Easter truly is a hopeful, glorious time of year.

When I think of Easter’s profound rebirth that brings such great joy and hope, my thoughts immediately turn to the most troubled, violent areas of the city and suburbs. Although that may sound strange, profound renewal and joyous hope are exactly what these neighborhoods need — and it is exactly what Catholic Charities strives to bring these desperate communities each day.

The majority of Catholic Charities’ 150 program sites are intentionally located in the most impoverished, troubled neighborhoods in Cook and Lake Counties. These communities are often characterized by a lack of economic development and employment opportunities, few businesses, property deterioration, high crime, high dropout rates, gang involvement, high rates of substance abuse, high rates of drug trafficking and extremely high poverty rates. Often, gangs and drugs have perpetuated a culture of violence where it becomes very difficult for human life and human dignity to thrive.

Catholic Charities’ goal in these troubled areas is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and of the entire community. Our clean and well-maintained buildings are beacons of hope in otherwise blighted areas, assuring residents that they have not been abandoned or forgotten. We are the safe place where people are treated with grace and dignity; where they are carefully helped to cope with traumatic life experiences; where they are shown a better way of life and provided with concrete alternatives; where they build courage and achieve stability and growth.

Catholic Charities warmly welcomes our neighbors in need, strives to get to the root cause of suffering and works with them to make a plan for a more hopeful future. Young children in our early childhood education programs prepare for success in school. Youth and young adults in our summer and after-school programs learn workplace skills while they broaden their network and perspective of the world.

Seniors receive a hot meal, friendship and supportive services in a safe environment. Struggling families get help to overcome the harmful effects of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, unemployment, hunger and homelessness.

Courageous veterans are housed, helped to find jobs and given a variety of supports to ensure they can live with confidence and respect.

All of Catholic Charities’ services are provided with love and compassion, and are a powerful antidote to the culture of gangs, drugs and violence that takes root in desperate areas. Our staff and volunteers are quiet, yet powerful witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, promoting a culture of life and restoring human dignity.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, Catholic Charities will ask for your support of our annual Mother’s Day Collection. As we strive to counter the effects of mounting violence in our neighborhoods, we need your support more than ever.

As Catholics and Christians, we know the cure for violence is found in Christ’s peace. With your help, we can bring the hope and light of Christ to communities that are shrouded in darkness. Let us raise up these communities so they can be born anew in the same promise we know in the profound joy of Easter.