Monsignor Michael M. Boland

The next 100 years

September 19, 2018

Earlier this month, Catholic Charities officially closed out our year-long centennial celebration at the 101st annual meeting of our board of advisors. This past anniversary year has been an exciting one, giving us an opportunity to look back at our rich history, and enabling us to recommit ourselves to the next century of service to those in need. 

In honor of our 100th anniversary, Catholic Charities was fortunate that Bob Morris, a dedicated board member, offered to put together an anniversary book, “A Century of Hope,” which was unveiled at the annual meeting. Working alongside Catholic Charities staff, Bob was able to gather hundreds of wonderful old photos and put the story of Catholic Charities into historical context. 

The book discusses the changing economic, political and societal trends over the years and how Catholic Charities responded to these signs of the times, always ensuring the needs of the poor and vulnerable were being met. From caring for widows and orphans during World War I and the spread of the deadly influenza virus, to providing critical aid during the Great Depression, implementing numerous War on Poverty programs in the 1960s, expanding housing and senior services as the population aged, providing relief during the Great Recession and now being an important part of anti-violence initiatives in troubled neighborhoods, Catholic Charities has always been at the forefront of assisting those in need.

I think what is remarkable about this book is that it is not just the story of Catholic Charities, but really the story of how the Catholic Church has come together in the Archdiocese of Chicago to fulfill Jesus’ mission to love and serve the poor. The story of Catholic Charities is the story of parishes, religious orders, community groups, board members, donors and volunteers working together to take care of the people Jesus loves so dearly.  

One hundred years later, this is still what Catholic Charities is all about. The mission of Catholic Charities remains resolutely focused on caring for the poorest of the poor in partnership with loyal supporters throughout Cook and Lake counties.  

Our 2018 annual report, also released at our annual meeting, is titled “Built on Faith and Hope.” We are honored to build on the solid foundation of faith and hope that was laid 100 years ago.

Undergirded by the church’s belief in the dignity and sanctity of each human life, Catholic Charities has a steadfast commitment to treating all who walk through our doors with the utmost respect. For us, charity is not just about providing material assistance, but acting with the same love and mercy Jesus showed to restore people’s dignity and give them hope for the future. 

Every day, thousands of people rely on Catholic Charities to help them overcome the challenges of poverty, hunger, homelessness, addiction, violence, aging and abuse. I know I speak for our staff, volunteers and board members when I say that we are truly honored to carry out the Gospel mission to love and serve the poor in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

We are deeply grateful for the faithful support of the community that enables Catholic Charities to remain on the cutting edge of social services, being responsive to changing needs and providing the best, most complete services possible. As we embark together on this second century of service to those in need, may God continue to bless our efforts to extend the warmth of a helping hand and the loving embrace of hope to all those entrusted to our care.


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