Commonwealth Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities is a national organization that describes it mission as helping the poor and unfortunate, supporting families that are in need, hing to make communities stronger. It is one of the nation’s largest voluntary social service networks, providing services to those in need, regardless of their religion, race, or financial status. There are over 1,600 Catholic Charities agencies across the United States, with approximately 48,000 paid staff and over 213,000 volunteers. In 2004 alone, over 7 million people were assisted by Catholic Charities. Each agency has a different service mission depending on its location.

Catholic Charities originiated 275 years ago in 1727, when the French Ursuline Sisters established an orphanage in New Orleans, Louisiana. to provide for children who needed care and refuge. Catholic Charities became a shelter for those children who were orphaned due to illness and death. The need for Catholic Charities grew during the early 1800’s as immigration dramatically increased. Over time Catholic Charities has become an organization that not only cares for children, but also provides health care and financial support to those who are impoverished. Currently Catholic Charities provides food, social and educational programs, counseling and mental health services, addiction rehabilitation programs, adoption services, assistance to pregnant women, housing services, funding to churches and dioceses, emergency financial assistance, and prescription medication assistance.

The Richmond chapter of Catholic Charities, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, is a non-profit organization that was established in 1922 and is currently located on Willow Lawn Drive outside of the downtown area.. It began as the Bureau of Catholic Charities, and in 1923 became apart of the Catholic Charities organizational network. Commonwealth Catholic Charities currently serves the central and southwestern sections of Virginia. When Commonwealth Catholic Charities was formed, its main focus was providing pregnancy counseling, adoption services, and counseling for families, parents, and children. Commonwealth Catholic Charities has expanded the services it provides to include services to pregnant mothers and their children, foster care programs, inter-country adoption services, services for the deaf and hard of hearing, services to AIDS patients, and respite care for the elderly and those who are disabled. The agency also provides a variety of services to the homeless throughout the central and southwestern regions of Virginia.

Profile prepared by Sarah Aune
December, 2006