Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Click on the heading to read the full translated text.
Pope Benedict XVI is assuring the poor of the love that the Church has for them, stating that it will not abandon them.
The Pope stated this today in an address while visiting the Don Luigi di Liegro shelter run by Caritas in Rome.
The Pontiff visited the various facilities on the premises, including the health center, hostel, canteen, and pharmacy, and he blessed a commemorative plaque.
He greeted the medical staff and volunteer aid workers as well as the poor people who are being served at the shelter.
"Dear brothers and friends who have found welcome here," the Holy Father said, "know that the Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you, because it recognizes in the countenance of each of you that of Christ."
"He wanted to identify himself in a very special way with those who find themselves in poverty and indigence," he affirmed.
"The witness of charity, which in this place finds particular realization, belongs to the mission of the Church together with the proclamation of the Gospel," Benedict XVI stated.
He added, "Man does not only need to be fed materially or helped to overcome moments of difficulty, but also has the necessity of knowing who he is and knowing the truth about himself, about his dignity."
The Pope affirmed that "the Church, with its service on behalf of the poor, is therefore charged to proclaim to all the truth about man, who is loved by God, created in his image, redeemed by Christ and called to eternal communion with him."
He continued: "Many people have thus wanted to rediscover, and are rediscovering, their dignity, sometimes lost in tragic events, and recover confidence in themselves and hope in the future.
"Through deeds, examples and words of those who lend their service here, numerous men and women are able to feel in a tangible way that their lives are protected by the Love that is God, and because of this they have a meaning and an importance."
"This profound certainty generates in man's heart a powerful, solid, luminous hope, a hope that gives one the courage to continue on the journey of life despite the failures, difficulties and trials that accompany it," the Pontiff acknowledged.
He encouraged those who work in the shelter to "have before your eyes and your heart Jesus' example, who for love became our servant and loved us 'to the end,' to the cross."
"Be joyous witnesses of the infinite charity of God," the Holy Father stated, "and, imitating the example of the deacon St. Lawrence, consider these friends of yours a treasure more precious than your life."
Click here or on the heading to read the full translated text on ZENIT'S Web page.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The mission of Catholic Charities of Central Texas is based on this directive to love and serve everyone—to cherish the dignity and potential of every person. This call to love is what inspires us to strengthen individuals, families (an important source of love) and communities. In his Apostolic Letter in 2000, His Holiness Pope John Paul II asks us to promote a spirituality of communion, making this our guiding principle. This means, he writes, “an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as ‘those who are a part of me’. This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship.” At Catholic Charities of Central Texas, we live this on Valentine’s Day and also long after the chocolates have been eaten and the flowers have wilted.
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day. The most commonly accepted belief is that it honors a third century priest named Valentine who secretly performed illegal marriages. Roman Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage believing that single men made better soldiers as they had no emotional ties. Valentine was eventually caught and sentenced to death for defying the marriage ban and also for refusing to denounce Christianity. While in prison, Valentine befriended the jailer’s daughter. Some legends claim that he cured her of blindness. Before his execution on February 14, 269 A.D., he wrote the girl a letter thanking her for her friendship and signed it “With love from your Valentine.” In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor him, and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Many of the new challenges we are facing in 2010 are the result of the prolonged economic recession. In October, 2009, our Angels of Hope Food Pantry fed more people than in any other month in our history: 719 households or 2,637 people. More people called for rent, mortgage and utility assistance than ever before. And we are not alone. Catholic Charities USA conducted a survey and received responses from 74 Catholic Charities agencies from around the country and covers the third quarter of 2009. The survey indicated that 70 percent of agencies saw an increase in demand for food stamps; 85 percent reported increased requests for rent or mortgage assistance; and 42 percent saw an increase in demand for counseling and mental health services. According to Fr. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA, the driving force behind the increased demand is the loss of jobs; noting not only the high unemployment in urban areas like Detroit but also the diminishing number of jobs in rural areas.
We can’t meet all the needs that come to us. That’s why collaborating with other Catholic ministries like St. Vincent de Paul, Mary Catholic Worker House, Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Vincare, to name a few, is very important. But with your help and the help of our partners, we can continue to strengthen families by providing help and hope to our brothers and sisters here in the Diocese of Austin. Thanks for all you do to serve Christ and the Church through your ministry at Catholic Charities.
I hope that 2010 is a great year for all of us!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Granted poverty is not distributed evenly around the world: specific regions suffer its worst effect. In our part of the world, social progress has had an effect so that only 47 million Americans, or 1/6th of the population, or 16.6%, endure poverty as opposed to the 60% average in the world where local figures become global figures.
As a Catholic, what are we to do? Jesus’ remark about the poor always will be with us is often taken out of context. It was not a remark to resign that whatever we do to eradicate poverty will be futile. He gave us His plan to eradicate poverty in that passage. (Matthew 26: 6-13). The back story is that a woman brought an expensive ointment and poured it over Jesus’ head. A practical disciple thought it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus instructed those listening with a text and subtext that the woman had used her resource well. She had prepared Him for His burial, but the subtext was that she used what she had to praise God.
If we implement this message into the poverty we encounter in our community, on the street corner, with the unemployed sitting at a computer looking for work, in the children who are void of but developing skills, we see His directive. We are to build and honor skills. We are to pay our children for babysitting, for they used their capabilities well to serve others and in the end a greater Good. We are to appreciate and buy crafts of those struggling to be a part of the supportive commerce system. Afterall, Nike began as a product being sold from the trunk of a car. We help those struggling to use their skills to support themselves and be an integral part of the whole of commerce. It’s the little supportive actions that make a lasting impression. We are the small alabaster jar that holds the precious actions that will flow over God in praise when we help build, honor, pay, buy, use a skill, craft, service, or resource correctly --- be it ours or others.
Board Member, Catholic Charities of Central Texas
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
HOPE FOR HAITI Fundraiser
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
1817 East 6th Street
Austin, TX 78702
Sat. January 23, 2010 1pm – 4pm
A $5 dollar donation is suggested which will go directly to Haiti relief efforts.
Open to all ages.
Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.
The event features local artists;
· Ryan Young - 1pm
· Margo Valiante - 1:30pm
· about:blank - 2pm
· Akina Adderley - 2:30pm
· Los Texas Wranglers - 3pm
All proceeds from this event will go directly to Catholic Relief Services for their ongoing disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Relief efforts already in progress include mobilization of food and deployment of pre-positioned emergency shelters, hygiene kits, as well as bringing supplies in from the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
“We extend our prayers and concerns to all those who have been so tragically impacted by this disaster,” said Cynthia Colbert, executive director of Catholic Charities of Central Texas. “We are encouraging donations to be made directly to Catholic Relief Service, the international response agency of the Roman Catholic Church, so that they can respond to this terrible disaster.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation through Catholic Charities of Central Texas can donate at www.ccctx.org but are encouraged to give directly to Catholic Relief Services that has already begun the recovery effort through its offices and workers in the small island nation.
Emergency briefings from Catholic Relief Services report an initial commitment of 5 million dollars for immediate use in the relief effort. Catholic Relief Services is geared up for major emergency response and is mobilizing food and deployment of pre-positioned emergency shelter and hygiene kits in Haiti, as well as bringing supplies in from the neighboring Dominican Republic.
HOW TO HELP:
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
c/o Haiti Earthquake
1817 East 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78702
Catholic Relief Services
c/o Haiti Earthquake
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090
Catholic Charities of Central Texas encourages support of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); those interested in donation to the CRS relief efforts for Haiti, should call (410) 625-2220 or 1-800-736-3467 or visit their Web site at http://www.crs.org.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
What is it like to have your electricity or your gas turned off because you couldn’t pay the past due bill?
When your power is turned off, you try to stay warm with added clothes and more blankets. But how do you cook? How do you keep your food refrigerated? How do you warm water? How do you provide for your children?
Many families seek help by calling a local St. Vincent de Paul Council, 211 Texas, a local community agency or Catholic Charities to get assistance. Often, they have to call multiple agencies or churches to get the assistance they need, only to be told, “We are out of funds for the month. Contact us again next month.”
With the extreme heat this summer, many families are still coping with previous utility bills and this is now worsened by the arrival of harsher weather.
Many ministries, like St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities, report that the number of people requesting help is up significantly from last year. With rises in unemployment and underemployment, families have fewer resources to address their most basic needs—food, heat, and shelter. For our brothers and sister on the streets, the cold weather poses even more difficulties as they require blankets, coats, socks, shoes and other clothing items to help them stay warm.
As a board member of Catholic Charities, I know first hand, the difference that we can make by helping people during these cold, winter months.
As you know, we are experiencing record cold weather here in Central Texas with low temperatures in the twenties in most places. This is definitely a time we need to help our brothers and sisters who are out of work, or low income, in order to assist with utility payments or heaters.
We cannot allow people to be left freezing in their homes, especially children, elderly and those with illnesses, when we are warm in the comfort of our homes.
Please join me in making a contribution online now at http://ccctx.org/donate_online.php
Requests for assistance are increasing and coming in daily. Your help will make a big difference to a family.
Treasurer, Board of Directors
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Since our agency is focused on the 25 counties that comprise the Diocese of Austin, I decided to find out what the number would be for our service area, so I created a spreadsheet using the 2008 American Communities Survey Data from the U.S. Census. It was an eye-opening, to say the least. Here is what I found.
SNAP SHOT OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES SERVICE AREA
Of all 25 counties of the Diocese of Austin:
- 24 of the 25 counties had double digit poverty rates of 10% or higher
- 18 or 72% of our counties have poverty rates that met or exceeded the national average and,
- the overall average for the Diocese is almost 15%.
Below is a chart that lists all 25 counties in our Diocese, with the corresponding population and percentages of individuals living below the poverty level.
(Note, for those that have an *, ACS survey data is not available, so I had to use 2000 Census data.)
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE AT OR BELOW THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL?
In 2009, the federal poverty guidelines for individuals and families are listed below.
HOW DO THESE STATISTICS TRANSLATE?
Let’s say you are a single Mom with two young children getting paid:
- $12.00 an hour
- 40 hours/ week
That means you make:
- $480.00 per week
- or $24,960 per year gross income.
- $6,650 more than the Federal Poverty Level
- That is 136% above the Federal Poverty Level.
Wow. She should be doing great, right? Well, let’s see. She has to pay:
- 15% of her take home pay for payroll taxes and her own health insurance costs;
She is left with $21,200 per year or about $1,760 per month.
- $800 for rent of a two bedroom apartment so she can live in a safe neighborhood and have access to good public schools;
That leaves her with $960 left.
- $350 for her car loan payment;
She is left with $660.
- $300/month for her child care;
She is left with $360.
That leaves her with only $360!
She still has to purchase food, medicine, gas for the car, utilities, clothes and shoes for the children, etc. Whew! It’s a chore, right?
Every month, making hard choices; hoping the car doesn’t break down, hoping that gas, utility and rent doesn’t increase, hoping that no one has to go to the hospital or the emergency room. And remember, she lives above the federal poverty level. Yikes!
SERVING THE LEAST AMONG US
Saint Francis is one of our favorite Saints in the Catholic Church. What an example he is to us in our ministry to serve the poor and vulnerable. In fact, he was called “the little poor man of Assisi.” Francis was born in the year 1182 in the town of Assisi in Italy. His father's name was Bernadone and he was a very wealthy merchant of Assisi. Francis was brought up in luxury and gaiety. One day Francis was joking and laughing with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis, who was soft-hearted, gave whatever he had in his pocket to the beggar. His companions probably mocked at him for his charitable act (it just wasn’t politically correct in those days…). The sight of the beggar set him thinking about poverty and misery, so he started to give more money to the poor and eventually formed a community of brothers that we know today as the Franciscans. Francis completely changed his life around and focused on serving those, who Jesus referred to, as “the least among us.” As a result of this change, he lost his family and his old friends, but gained God’s blessing and favor because he heard and responded to the Gospel call to reach out and serve others.
I often pray about my life, my calling and the ministry of Catholic Charities. Perhaps my life change or my spiritual awakening is not as drastic as that of St. Francis, but I like to think that I am following in his footsteps by trying my best to listen to God in my life. He asks me to stop, listen, and respond. So I take our mission at Catholic Charities very personally and very seriously. Our tag line reads: “Providing Help and Creating Hope.” What does that mean? To us, it means that every person is valued and loved and we provide what means we can to help someone right where they are in life and help them get in a better place. Sometimes it’s a bag of groceries. Sometimes it’s filing a petition so a wife can be reunited with her husband from another country. Sometimes it’s paying part of someone’s rent or utility bill. Sometimes, we don’t have the resources though, so its being kind, its sharing a hug an encouraging word and/or helping them access the services of another ministry, like St. Vincent de Paul or another community agency that has resources we lack.
Bishop Streib, from the Diocese of Memphis, is quoted as saying, “We know that we should give love to the persons who are poor because we are called by the Gospel to do just that.” This call comes from Jesus, who “helped people who were poor” and who “always lifted up individuals as he ministered to them,” the bishop added. “And that is our task also.”
The Bishop commented, “We look at the poor not in a way our society often does — as just one more person who has not pulled himself up by his own bootstraps — but instead as human beings who were created in God’s image the exact same way we were. We treat each poor person as unique; and when we do, we imitate Jesus.”
So, January is poverty awareness month. I ask you to really look, and really listen. What is God leading you to do today?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
When was the last time you didn't have enough to eat? I don't mean that you looked in your refrigerator or pantry and realized you were out of a favorite food item. I mean, when was the last time you looked in your kitchen and not only didn't have enough food for a balanced meal for you and/or your family, but also, you lacked sufficient resources to go out and buy more food? When was the last time you had to make tough choices like - do I pay the utility bill, or buy food for my children? When was the last time you contacted an agency like Catholic Charities to find out how to get food through a local food pantry or access a hot meal at one of the free breakfast or lunch locations served in our community?
For most of us - the answer is - never. But for many, many of our brothers and sisters living at or near the poverty level, this is a regular experience. Food security-access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life-is one of several conditions necessary for a population to be healthy and well nourished.
How does Texas compare to other states?
A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2008, there were:
- 17 million U.S. households (14.6 percent of all households) that were food insecure at some time during the year.
That is, at some time during the year, they were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food for all household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food.
This same report reveals that Texas exceeds the national average. In Texas, the survey reports that:
- almost 17% of Texas households experienced food insecurity.
- Texas is second in the nation in food insecurity - behind the state of Mississippi.
There is a direct link between low income and food insecurity. The survey reports that in 2008:
- food insecurity was more than four times as prevalent in households with annual incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line as it was in households with incomes above that range.
A few characteristics of those who reported food insecurity showed that:
- 98 percent reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more;
- 96 percent reported that the food they bought just did not last and they did not have money to get more; and
- 94 percent reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
To access the full report, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008, visit the following website: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR83/ERR83.pdf
Catholic Charities Angels of Hope Food Pantry Works to Increase Food Security for Families, Children, Seniors & Disabled
At our Angels of Hope Food Pantry, we work to combat food insecurity every week. We rely heavily on donations to our food pantry and the dedicated volunteers who meet with clients, fill their food orders, stock our food pantry shelves, conduct food drives, plant and harvest our garden, and even the more mundane, but necessary tasks, like data entry to help us with reports to funders.
As people of faith, we are called to reach out to the poor and vulnerable and, as a result of our faith in and love for God, to feed the hungry. We join with the many Catholic parishes and faith communities that work hard to alleviate hunger in our Diocese every day.
Be an Angel of Hope. Give today. Give Generously.
Don't let families go hungry in your community.
For those of you who have full pantries, I ask you to consider making a food or financial donation to our Angels of Hope Food Pantry or to a local pantry in your community.
Consider donating a bag of groceries with meat, dairy, vegetables and other necessary items. This small care package goes a long way in strengthening and supporting families, many of which, have minor children.
Cynthia N. Colbert
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The Mystery of the Magi's Gold
Catholic Charities of Central Texas has partnered with the Long Center! Through Dec. 6, $10 of your ticket will benefit Catholic Charities! Use the code HOPE online here or by phone at 512.474.LONG (5664). Buy now because this offer is only available until Dec. 6!
Use the code HOPE during Dec. 6-20 and 10% of your ticket will benefit Catholic Charities.
"Christmas Catechism is a nostalgic hoot!"
A New Holiday Tradition! Some holiday shows make you want to sing. Others make you want to dance. Sister's take on holiday traditions will make you laugh. Non-stop. Hysterically. The most laughs you'll have this season! Guaranteed "nun" funnier! From the creator of "Late Night Catechism."
Debra & Kevin Rollins Studio Theatre
701 W Riverside Dr
December 1-20, 2009
For more information on Catholic Charities, visit http://www.ccctx.org/.