On Good Shepherd Sunday, May 7, some 700 people marked the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago with a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. Apostolic nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ ambassador to the United States, gave the homily at Mass and imparted the pope’s blessing. "During the Jubilee Year for Mercy, Pope Francis said, ‘A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked. He is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need,’" Archbishop Pierre said in his homily. "As Catholics, we have a special duty to seek out the poor, a duty which you at Catholic Charities have been fulfilling. Like Christ the Good Shepherd you desire that they might have life and have life abundantly." There is a special place for the poor in the heart of God; it’s not just social activism, Archbishop Pierre told the congregation. "The pope encourages us not only ‘to find Christ in the poor, to lend our voices to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom that God wishes to share with us through them,’" Archbishop Pierre said. Works of mercy and charity build a culture of life that leads people to Christ. "Catholic Charities has existed and exists to evangelize," he said. Closing our eyes to the suffering of our neighbors closes our eyes to the Lord. "My brothers and sisters, you know all too well the darkness of our world and of this great city — tremendous poverty, hunger and violence," Archbishop Pierre said in his homily. "It is your love — our love — Catholic charity — that will illumine this city. Do not be discouraged in the face of challenges. Rather be stubborn in doing good." In Chicago, Catholic Charities was founded shortly after the start of World War I following a flu epidemic that left many mothers caring for their families alone. Cardinal George Mundelein gathered a group of prominent Catholic businessmen — including Charles Comiskey of the White Sox and Marshal Field III — to raise money for the church. It quickly evolved into an effort to aid the poor. In 1918 Catholic Charities was incorporated. As the largest Catholic Charities in the country today, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago serves one person in Cook or Lake counties every 30 seconds. Diocesan Catholic Charities agencies are separately incorporated. Some have other names such as Catholic Social Services. They network with each other through Catholic Charities USA. Today, the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities, headed by Msgr. Michael Boland, has 150 programs in 153 locations across Cook and Lake counties. At the end of the May 7 anniversary Mass, Msgr. Boland presented Cardinal Cupich with the first of its Catholic Charities’ Centennial Awards for an "extraordinary witness to the Gospel." Throughout the anniversary year, Catholic Charities will bestow this award on others in the community. Catholic Charities will celebrate its anniversary through April 2017 with events. For more visit www.ccofchicago100.net.