Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has come a long way since first opening its doors in 1912 operating a small orphanage in the northwest part of the city. Now beginning our second century of service we can take pride in these modest beginnings and the manner in which Catholic Charities has continuously adapted its services in response to the changing needs of our fellow Oklahomans.
Whether caring for orphaned and abandoned children during the Great Depression, or resettling refugees from Southeast Asia in the 1970s, or providing counseling and case management in the aftermath of the Murrah Building bombing in 1995, Catholic Charities has been on the scene to provide hope and support to Oklahomans in time of need. More recently Catholic Charities has been an integral part of the community’s disaster response and recovery efforts following last year’s devastating tornadoes in central Oklahoma. Our case management services with those families will continue as long as needed.
Catholic Charities gives outward expression to the Church’s concern and commitment to serve those on the peripheries of society, the least of our brothers and sisters. We do this in the name of Christ and motivated by faith. We are not merely a social service agency because our manner of serving is also a way of witnessing to God’s merciful love revealed in Jesus Christ. We strive to recognize the face of Christ in every man, woman and child who come to us and we serve them as a way of serving Christ.
Today Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City provides 14 different types of programs and services to needy Oklahomans based on need, not creed. In addition to the main service building in Oklahoma City, we currently have four regional offices across the Archdiocese. Whether offering counseling, adoption services, support to homeless women and children, assisting with immigration legal services or any of our other programs, we serve not because our clients are Catholic (they need not be), but because we are Catholic.
In this issue of the Sooner Catholic, you will read about plans to replace Catholic Charities’ 60-year-old main service building on Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City. This building was repurposed when Catholic Charities acquired it in 1994. It has served well, but is simply no longer adequate to serve the mission effectively and efficiently. A silent capital campaign has been underway for several months to raise funds to build a new building in the same neighborhood.
I am very proud of the excellent reputation that Catholic Charities enjoys within our community. Because parishioners across the Archdiocese already provide the majority of the annual operating budget through the Catholic Charities Appeal each year, we decided to go first to other donors to seek support. We have received a remarkably generous and enthusiastic response to our request for financial pledges to make this new building a reality.
We are well on our way to our goal of $9.5 million. Our new building will be slightly larger than the current building but will be designed to meet the present and future needs of Catholic Charities. In addition to efficient and dignified space for providing services to our clients, the building will have a beautiful chapel named in honor of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It will also have a small conference center for other community gatherings. This will be a building that our Catholic community will be proud of, even as we are proud of the work that Catholic Charities does in our name. I am happy to announce this new initiative and invite you to join me in prayer and support for its success.