The familiar words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me," speak compellingly to us today as we witness the plight of the more than 50,000 unaccompanied children fleeing to our country to escape the ...read more
In the News
Our City: From Catholic Charities of Baltimore
By William McCarthy, executive director, Catholic Charities of Baltimore
We all call Baltimore our home. In the last week, our comforting notion of “home” has been shattered by the aftermath of the tragic death of Freddie Gray under as-yet undetermined circumstances. Since then, we have witnessed mourning for a young man’s untimely death, community dialogue, peaceful protests, and finally violence, and senseless destruction.
At Catholic Charities, we firmly believe in the power of one person to impact the life of another person in powerful ways as well as the ripple effect that can lead to profound change. Recent events in Baltimore have made me think of the importance of creating “one community” that has the power to create change for the good. We (and that’s a large collective “we”) need to build “one community.”
Freddie Gray lived in a neighborhood in West Baltimore where decades of profound poverty have left individuals and families in despair. The unemployment rate there is 67%. The poverty rate is 35%. School attendance rate is around 50% and a person’s life expectancy is 69 years.
There are other parts of the City just like this. Violence, disparities in education, a void in employment opportunities, inconsistent law enforcement and disparate criminal justice have fueled the frustration and violence that has occurred. On Monday night, the power of one person was evident from the beginning. I saw ministers linked arm in arm put themselves bravely between the protestors and the police as well as neighbors who stood in front of broken storefronts trying to prevent further damage and looting. But for those actions, the damage would have been worse. Their courage and actions mattered.
On Tuesday morning, I walked with Archbishop Lori and Bishop Madden through sections of West Baltimore to visit, support our neighbors and to see firsthand the aftermath of the previous night’s violence and destruction. As a son of West Baltimore myself, the destruction was heartbreaking, but we also witnessed the power of one at work already. It was very early, yet we saw many people already clearing the debris from sidewalks and streets on every affected street. Some people were from the neighborhood and others had come from outside the neighborhood to lend a hand. They also helped secure properties that had been broken into. We saw this block after block, street after street…one person, one community, one purpose.
Later that afternoon, I made my way to New Shiloh Baptist Church. My travels were hindered by so many closed streets but with the help of a number of neighbors I eventually got to the church. I saw and experienced peaceful marching, kindness and respect. That night, Bishop Madden and I attended a meeting and service at the Empowerment Temple off of Reisterstown Rd. There were 300 ministers and about 1,000 people in attendance. It was emotional. One at a time, individuals expressed anger and frustration. But more importantly, they also expressed hope and a resolve for change and for justice.
That’s where Catholic Charities comes in. The values that we live call us to love, serve, teach and work for justice. We assist people living in poverty with a wide variety of programs while on their road to self sufficiency. We want to be part of how, as a City, we join with others to reduce the profound impact of poverty on our neighbors and the community at large. We have the same hope and resolve for change and justice. We must create “one community” where every person can live with dignity and respect.
I thank you sincerely for your part in our work to improve the lives of Marylanders in need.
Catholic Relief Services Commits $10 Million to Nepal Earthquake Response
Assistance Will Reach at Least 75,000 People; 2nd Collection Encouraged by USCCB President
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is committing at least $10 million to help those affected by the devastating earthquake in Nepal, as CRS teams prepare to distribute relief supplies to those now living outside, either because their homes were damaged or destroyed or because of fear of the strong continuing aftershocks.
“Our commitment of support is not just to assist in the next few days and weeks, but for years to come,” said Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. “And it’s in large part because of our generous donors and their compassion for the people of Nepal at this time of need that makes this possible.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and President of the USCCB, has encouraged his brother bishops to take up a second collection for those affected by the earthquake. These funds will be used to support CRS’ emergency response and recovery efforts of CRS, including immediate life-saving assistance as well as a long-term response needed to rebuild communities and livelihoods.
The supplies – temporary housing kits that include tarpaulins and tools, as well as sanitation and hygiene items – were pre-positioned in India because the area is known to be susceptible to earthquakes. They were sent to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, in trucks traveling roads damaged by this latest temblor.
CRS teams in Kathmandu said that the supplies are especially needed now as cold, rainy, windy weather has made life miserable for those without shelter.
“There are very remote areas no one has reached so far and that’s where we’re putting our focus,” said Elizabeth Tromans, CRS’ emergency response coordinator. Speaking of some of the challenges facing aid efforts on the ground, she said “There are only a couple of roads into Nepal from India and parts have not been assessed yet and it’s unclear what routes remain open.”
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on April 25, leveling parts Kathmandu and destroying outlying villages, many of them still out of reach of rescue and recovery teams due to damaged roads. The earthquake also triggered avalanches in the Himalayas. The official death toll is over 5,500 and expected to rise as more villages are reached.
CRS plans to spend $2.5 million in the emergency phase, the next six months. That will reach 15,000 families – 75,000 people – with shelter and other critical supplies. The balance of the funding will be used to help families restore their livelihoods and rebuild their homes.
Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) has posted on its website (www.mdcathcon.org/elections) all of the candidate responses to its 2014 election surveys. Every election year, the Maryland Catholic Conference surveys Maryland candidates for the U.S. Congress, governor and General Assembly about their positions on issues of interest to ...read more
The parents of children with Down syndrome have been heard. They want more information – accurate information – provided to new parents who receive a pre- or post-natal diagnosis that their child has Down syndrome.
Thankfully, the Maryland General Assembly passed unanimously on the last day of session (at 11:57 pm ...read more
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recognize January as Poverty Awareness Month. In a statement titled The Dignity of Work, Maryland’s Catholic bishops call attention to the needs of the poor and the backbone of Maryland's workforce - the low-wage earner and working families, and urge their fair ...read more