Happy birthday, Catholic Charities: Celebrating 100 years of caring and service Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

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At one time, the Catholic Herald newspaper shared offices with Catholic Social Service (now Catholic  Charities). Our offices were located in the rectory building at St. Patrick Church in downtown Madison.

Because of our proximity, I was able to witness first-hand many of the programs and services provided. In fact, sometimes when the Catholic Social Service staff were too busy, I got to hold babies brought in for adoption. I can still remember the cute outfits one of the foster mothers made for these babies, including a little witch costume for Halloween one year.

It was wonderful to see the care taken by the foster parents of these children. But it was even more satisfying to experience the joy on the faces of the adoptive parents when they came to claim their new little son or daughter.

In 2010, the Catholic Herald still shares offices in the same building as Catholic Charities at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison but on opposite sides of the building. However, I am still aware of the great work done by Catholic Charities with its ever expanding programs.

Response to developing needs

This year Catholic Charities USA is celebrating 100 years of caring and service to the poor and marginalized all across our country. Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Madison has provided almost 65 years of service — and I’m sure even more years of service was provided before the creation of our diocese in 1946 through the other dioceses in Wisconsin.

What has impressed me about Catholic Charities over the years has been its response to developing needs in our society. It began as an agency providing primarily counseling, help for pregnant women and adoptive families, and emergency assistance to the poor. It has grown to provide services to the disabled, the elderly, those with mental illness and problems with addictions, ex-offenders, and people in need in rural and urban communities.

I can recall that Catholic Charities has helped with the resettlement of refugees from Southeast Asia and other areas of the world. The agency has assisted people facing natural disasters, such as the floods our area has experienced in recent years.

Putting faith into action

While Catholic Charities provides its services to people of all faiths, its impetus is to put our Catholic faith into action based on the example of Christ himself. It’s easy to see that Catholic Charities lives out Catholic social teaching by providing compassionate, caring services to help those in need physically, emotionall, and spiritually.

One of the newest programs fulfilling this mission is Catholic Charities’ Mobile Food Pantries, which feed over 3,500 persons each month through 11 rural parish food pantries.

Advocacy, support

Catholic Charities USA is also moving beyond direct service to advocacy. Its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America is a multi-year, multi-faceted approach to alleviating poverty in the United States. The goal of the campaign is to reduce poverty in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2020. To learn more about this campaign, go to

Let us wish a happy birthday to Brian Cain and the staff of Catholic Charities Madison on Catholic Charities Sunday, Sept. 26. Beyond the good wishes, let us pledge to support this great agency with our time, talent, and treasure to ensure its much-needed services continue in the future. For more information on Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Madison, go to