By SISTER SUSAN SCHORSTEN, HM
Catholic Charities has been a part of the Diocese of Charleston for well over 50 years. It serves as a social agency of the Church and is rooted in Gospel values. The mission statement of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston defines its overall purpose as working “…collaboratively to extend the social mission of the Church in South Carolina by providing and promoting quality services to those in need, advocating for justice in social structures and calling the entire church and other people of good will through education, advocacy and consultation to do the same.”
The primary means by which Catholic Charities accomplishes its mission are through the provision of direct services, consultation, education and advocacy. Some of the direct services currently being provided are: adoptions; counseling; services to the elderly through the Carter May Home, the Respite Program in North Charleston and Senior Citizens Programs at Echo House and Neighborhood House; clothing and household items center at the Pee Dee Regional Office; and emergency financial and referral assistance is provided by all of the Regional Offices.
The education services provided include Natural Family Planning, Parish Advocacy Training for Ministry to the Disabled, and other social justice and peace related presentations to parishes, OCIA groups, principals, and others who request these services.
Consultation services are primarily provided for counseling services, technical support and monitoring of CHD recipient organizations in the state, and support and coordination with St. Vincent de Paul Societies.
Advocacy services are supported in all issues related to the consistency of life ethic including abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia; basic human rights with particular focus on those who are poor, those who are migrant farmworkers and others living and working in subhuman conditions.
The specific directional statements which are guiding the regional coordinators for this current fiscal year, 1997-98, include the following:
1. Due to the decrease in the number of birthmothers presenting themselves to Catholic Charities for the placement of their children for adoption, the adoption program will be re-evaluated as a direct service of Catholic Charities in 1996 and 1997.
2. Catholic Charities will increase its efforts to focus on advocacy for children, particularly those children who are poor and those children who are abused.
3. The efforts of Migrant Ministry will be enhanced by providing education, consultation and advocacy services where possible.
4. Direct emergency assistance will be provided, particularly in those situations where no other resources are available and/or the commitment to work with the individual or family will be such that self-esteem and self sufficiency are able to be accomplished and/or strengthened. The amount of money allocated to direct services will be dependent on the resources available from gifts and contributions.
5. Catholic Charities will increase its focus on families, marriage preparation, and other current issues and concerns with which families are struggling.
6. Advocating for justice and peace will be enhanced by collaborating with parishes in their efforts to promote peace and justice in their local communities; monitoring the impact of social programs on those persons most in need; and fostering an awareness of and a need for change in unjust structures in society.
7. A major focus of this year is working with parishes to develop or expand their social ministry, integrating their outreach efforts with the other five components of the Diocesan Pastoral Vision.
A new service initiated this year is the Poverella Ministry, which invites Catholics to help those who are dependent on someone or some agency become independent and take control of their own lives. By becoming mentors or sponsors, members of Catholic faith communities assist and guide families in making the transition from dependency to self sufficiency. The Poverella Ministry works collaboratively with state and federal agencies and resources and other private charities. Thus far 15 teams have been trained in the Piedmont Deanery. These teams include 102 individuals from various faith communities and they are currently working with 14 families which included 48 people. Catholic Charities received a $25,000 grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation to assist with the training and development of this program. As resources are available, the program will be expanded throughout the diocese. It is a wonderful opportunity for members of our faith communities to work with others in their parishes to minister to those who are poor in a new way in their local communities. One of the primary goals of Poverella Ministry is that the persons who choose to serve in this way by working with those who are poor will undoubtedly gain more than they give in time and support.
Sister Susan Schorsten, HM, is director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Charleston.
Catholic Charities Regional Coordinators
Sr. Margie Hosch, Piedmont Regional Coordinator
P.O. Box 216
Greenville, SC 29602
Fax: (864) 370-9880
Diane Bullard, Pee Dee Regional Coordinator
1071 Academy Dr.
Conway, SC 29526
Fax: (843) 347-9546
Peggy Sookikian, Midlands Regional Coordinator
P.O. Box 7245
Columbia, SC 29202
Fax: (803) 252-7605
Sr. Patricia Keating, Coastal Regional Coordinator
1662 Ingram Rd.
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 402-9115 ext. 15
Fax: (843) 402-9071