In a time of great need, staff members and supporters of Catholic Charities USA gathered at Epiphany Cathedral in and Venice and virtually to celebrate 110 years of service to God’s people by Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA).
“This is a great time for us to take stock of what we’re doing as a ministry of the Church, especially in these difficult days with the pandemic and natural disasters,” said Adrian Dominican Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of CCUSA, in her opening talk for the September 25, 2020, event.
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, CCUSA is a network of agencies nationwide that serve in such areas as affordable housing, food and nutrition, immigration and refugee services, leadership development and Catholic identity, and integrated healthcare. In addition, CCUSA advocates for social justice and offers disaster relief. In turn, CCUSA is a member of Caritas Internationalis, which has 165 national members throughout the world.
In her welcome, Sister Donna spoke of the “millions of prayers that collect in our hearts and permeate our collective being as Catholic Charities workers in this country,” from intercessions for the nation’s many needs to lamentations over the loss of life and livelihood during the pandemic, to the African proverb calling on all to pray with their feet.
But Sister Donna offered a special type of prayer: a prayer of gratitude. “We have so much to thank God for these days,” she said. “We’ve been entrusted with accompanying so many people who reflect back to us the face of Christ. This is such sacred, sacred work.”
Cardinal Luis Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, addressed the CCUSA workers from Rome via video, thanking them for their heroic work, especially during the pandemic. “You are reminding the whole world that the pandemic does not produce only cases of sickness and unfortunately death, of loss of jobs and loss even of dreams,” he said. “They are not just cases. They are human beings.”
“Thank you for defending the dignity of every human person,” Cardinal Tagle said. “You are a sign of hope. You are the seeds of hope of God’s Word of love, being sown by the Word of God wherever you are, so that in the arid ground created by the pandemic, love will bloom.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, and Episcopal Liaison to CCUSA, presided over Mass for the 110th anniversary celebration. In his homily, he spoke on the surprising identity of Jesus as servant. “Those of you who work in Catholic Charities, you know that is what we are called to be – the servants of those who are in need.”
He recalled those who had served people in need throughout the 110 years of Catholic Charities, and the continued call to service of Catholic Charities workers today. “In giving that response to serving, we become always more the man or woman we are called to be.”
Watch the entire CCUSA 110th anniversary celebration.