Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago is taking a cue from Pope Francis. The agency dedicated new shower and laundry facilities for its clients June 18 as part of a prayer service rededicating its headquarters at the St. Vincent Center, 721 N. LaSalle St., as part of the wrap-up of Catholic Charities’ 100th anniversary year. The center also dedicated a new kitchen. Pope Francis opened shower facilities in St. Peter’s Square in 2015 and a launderette for homeless people in Rome in 2017. “As we close our 100th anniversary year, we are celebrating an expanded and deepened commitment to the city’s poor, the often homeless residents who come to this site in the shadow of skyscrapers and are welcomed as brothers and sisters,” said Monsignor Michael Boland, Catholic Charities’ president and CEO. “We are inspired and energized by Pope Francis, who just a few days ago, issued a message for the World Day of the Poor titled ‘The Poor Man Cried, and the Lord Heard Him.’ The Holy Father recognized that care of the poor must extend beyond sustenance to services that recognize and support the dignity of each human being.” Most people take for granted the ability to take a shower and get clean whenever they want to, Boland said, or to wash their clothes and bedding. t’s not so easy for people who are homeless. “The people who have used it are profoundly grateful,” Boland said. So far, the showers are open for only a couple of hours each Wednesday, when volunteers are available to welcome guests and escort them to the clothing room, where they can choose clean clothes to wear after their showers. Guests can sign up for a time slot the day before, at the Tuesday evening supper. After they arrive and choose new clothes, guests receive the toiletries they need to shower, brush their teeth and shave, along with new underwear and socks, and get a half-hour in one of the two shower rooms. Boland said that the showers could be open more often if there were more volunteers to welcome people. The first couple of weeks went off without any problems, despite the concerns that were raised about liability and other issues ahead of time. “It went perfectly,” Boland said. “Sometimes you do have to approach it like a little child and have faith.” Offering services that help preserve the health of poor people and respect their dignity fits the core mission of Catholic Charities over its century-long history. “Our services may have changed over the years, as we responded to epidemics, wars, economic crises, domestic and street violence and the consequences of family instability, but the mission has remained the same,” Boland said. “We now serve more than 1 million people every year in Cook and Lake counties.” Catholic Charities’ work would not be possible without the support of its neighbors, Boland said. Area hotels and restaurants donated toiletries, towels, food and supplies — including china plates, so guests do not have to eat off of disposable dishes. “For many of them, it’s been years since they didn’t have to eat out of a paper bag or off of a paper plate,” Boland said. Designer Mick DiGiulio planned the new kitchen and recruited local tradesmen to make it a reality. “It’s a huge difference,” Boland said. “The old one was truly ancient.” Volunteers from Holy Name Cathedral usually serve evening meals twice a week; groups from Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue and Chicago Sinai Congregation are also regular volunteers. Boland also reminded the guests at the dedication — everyone from volunteers to board members and donors — that Catholic Charities’ mission is to serve everyone in need. “We serve all who come here,” he said. “We do not proselytize or preach. We do not do this because they are Catholic, or we hope they will become Catholic. We do it because we are Catholic, and we are witnessing to our faith.” Catholic Charities also blessed and dedicated its remodeled St. Vincent Centennial Garden in front of the building, and dedicated the flagpole to Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was the commander in the district where the St. Vincent Center is when he was killed in March.