Sally Blount

Three lessons from the pandemic

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The pandemic has compelled us, as individuals and as organizations, to reevaluate and prioritize what is most important — what is at the core of who we are. Catholic Charities is no different.

The challenges of the past 18 months have led us to do some soul-searching. They have taught us three valuable lessons,   reminding us of who we are as a Catholic, mission-driven organization.

First, like so many Americans, we have a renewed appreciation and gratitude for our essential, front-line workers. Catholic Charities’ services, which are normally hands-on and in person, had to be completely and immediately redesigned from the ground-up to keep our workers and clients safe. 

At the same time, demand, especially for food and financial assistance, doubled and tripled in many locations as the economic and health repercussions of COVID-19 set in. Our front-line workers, including our maintenance personnel, worked round-the-clock with care, compassion and ingenuity.

How well we care for these most valuable employees is vital to how we care for those we accompany and serve. At Catholic Charities, our faith calls us to “invert the pyramid” — to ensure that our clients and front-line employees know that they are why we are here. 

Second, the pandemic has reminded us that our calling is not to efficiency, but to accompaniment and compassion. True charity and mercy only work one heart at a time. 

Understanding that truth is our “advantage” as a human services provider; we need to be wary of the allure of scale. While some government money further enables our calling, too much can distract us from our true mission.

Catholic Charities was founded 100 years ago by Catholics of good will to gather and share our resources on behalf of those in need because together we can do more. As Matthew 25:35 reminds us, we are called to feed and clothe the hungry, welcome the stranger into our midst, visit the sick and bury the dead.

But we are also committed to fostering even deeper collaboration and financial intention among Catholics and like-minded, mission-driven partners to pursue this mission in a spirit of Christian witness.

Finally, we have confronted the depth of pain and trauma that our clients and many of our employees carry when they come to us. The increasing breakdown of our familial and social institutions over the past half-century, growing community and interpersonal violence, not to mention the staggering increases in economic inequality, have all wreaked havoc in the lives of those we serve and for our team members. 

At Catholic Charities, we are fully committed to trauma informed care and healing. We must make greater investments in counseling and behavioral health services, both for our clients and our employees. These investments will be critical to enabling the accompaniment and compassion that is integral to our mission.

These lessons underscore the “soul” of Catholic Charities, reinforcing our call to the mission of charity and practice of mercy. As we come out of the pandemic, your support will be more important than ever.

Whether client, employee, donor, or partnering with us on the front lines, we need you to be the body of Christ with us, responding to Jesus’ resounding call to love one another (John 13:34).  



  • catholic charities
  • covid-19