As Catholic Charities winds down our year-long 100th anniversary celebration in April, we hope you will consider joining us for one final celebratory event. Catholic Charities Centennial Week of Service will be April 9 through April 15, and we are planning a whole week of fun and meaningful volunteer opportunities. We felt this would be a most fitting way to usher in the second century of serving those in need because volunteers have formed the bedrock of Catholic Charities, and volunteers are the roots of our future. One hundred years ago, the United States entered into the depths of World War I and our city was in the grip of the Spanish Flu epidemic. Needs were great. Parishes and religious orders were overwhelmed with requests for assistance and did not have the capacity to respond. To stem the rising tide, Cardinal George Mundelein called together a group of prominent business and civic leaders to help him raise money and develop an organized and efficient way to provide charitable care to the growing numbers of needy people in the Archdiocese of Chicago. This group of leaders would become the first board of advisers of Catholic Charities, and they not only got involved themselves, but inspired thousands of others to do the same. By the time of the first annual meeting of the board, Cardinal Mundelein was amazed by the response: “During the past 12 months, 50,000 people in this city and diocese have contributed their money, their time and their services that we might efficiently carry out these works of mercy, that we might feed the hungry, nurse the sick, protect the orphans, shelter the homeless and help the poor in our midst.” That same dedication to charity and volunteerism has been with Catholic Charities ever since. Jesus’ love has truly been poured out to millions of people over the years through the merciful hands of our dedicated board members, volunteers and supporters. In the spirit of Cardinal Mundelein’s remarks, Catholic Charities Centennial Week of Service will be organized around the corporal works of mercy. Each day there will be a different work of mercy highlighted and various activities will be planned for people to volunteer, advocate and donate. For example, on Monday, April 9, our theme will be “feed the hungry,” and we are encouraging donations to our food pantries across Cook and Lake counties. There will also be volunteer opportunities for corporations and groups to assemble packaged food kits, serve dinner to the elderly in our senior residences or deliver meals to seniors in their homes. On Tuesday, April 10, we will “clothe the naked” by requesting donations of socks and underwear for the homeless, as well as baby clothing, diapers and necessities for new mothers. Volunteers can sort donated clothes or help guests find professional clothing in our clothing rooms. The other days of the week you can help us shelter the homeless, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and lonely or give alms to the poor. There will be plenty of opportunities for parishes, businesses, schools, families and individuals to get involved. But of course, if this week does not work with your schedule, Catholic Charities always has multiple needs throughout the year for volunteers. For 100 years, the Holy Spirit has moved many generous souls to support our brothers and sisters in need in the Archdiocese of Chicago. We hope that Catholic Charities Centennial Week of Service celebrates our rich volunteer history, and inspires new volunteers to join us in fulfilling the Gospel mission to love and serve the poor. Together, let’s embark on a second century of bringing Christ’s mercy and hope to those who need it most. For more information, visit www.catholiccharities.net/volunteer or call 312-655-7322.