Catholic Charities: A personal resurrection out of poverty
By Sara Ramirez
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
Families in poverty suffer just as Jesus suffered while he was here on earth. Just like Jesus, poor families are looking for hope of a personal resurrection –– deliverance out of poverty.
The path may be different, but consider these striking parallels:
Jesus was betrayed - our social welfare systems were initially designed to be a safety net, but after 50 years, we see they have become more like cobwebs that keep people where they are. The system unintentionally sets families up for failure and they are betrayed by false promises.
Jesus was deserted –– families in poverty live in the shadows of society and are marginalized on a daily basis. In talking about the poor, Pope Francis said, “Those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised –– they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers.’”
Jesus was falsely accused –– families in poverty are often labeled as “lazy” and “free loaders.” The reality is that the majority are the working poor –– hard workers with full-time, minimum wage jobs. It’s just not enough to get their basic needs met.
Jesus was rejected –– families in poverty are rejected on a daily basis, as though poverty is contagious through touch. Think about how many times we’ve heard “that’s a great project, but I don’t want it in my neighborhood.”
Through the resurrection, despair is turned to hope. The promise of Christ’s life, death and resurrection is that the story is not over. Through him, life and hope for the future are reborn. This is what families seek when they come to Catholic Charities.
Hope For The Poor
The beauty of Christ’s gift to us is that it is also ours to share. As we consider the suffering and resurrection of Jesus, we must remember the suffering of the poor around us. Through the gift of the resurrection to us we are able to pour out hope onto others. We can give hope because we have received it.
At Catholic Charities, we are called to live out our faith, which is shaped by Catholic social teaching. Here are a few of the ways that this teaching informs our work:
Preferential option for the poor –– We put the poor and vulnerable first. They take first priority. A basic moral test in any society is to ask how our most vulnerable members are faring. With a poverty rate in Texas of 17.26 percent (compared with the national 14.9 percent), we have a lot of work to do.
Rights and Responsibilities –– All people have rights, but we rarely talk about the responsibilities that come with them. Catholic Charities believes that all people have basic rights, but they must be allowed to be accountable as well. Many of the people who come through our doors are for the first time invited to a partnership, rather than a handout.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person –– Protecting the dignity of life is not just about issues surrounding the beginning and end of life, but every stage in between. Each of our programs focuses on protecting the dignity of the person.
Being His Hands And Feet on Earth
Catholic Charities is fighting to end poverty by caring for children, strengthening families and welcoming the stranger. Last year we served more than 9,500 individuals. We gave 800 babies a healthy start by putting knowledge in their parent’s hands. We helped more than 87 percent of families who came to us homeless to achieve housing stability. We helped 1,000 immigrant families stay together and safe.
Providing services is only one aspect of the three key value drivers that enhance our mission. We are additionally called to advocate for community change and to call others of good will to join us in the fight.
We are fearless in this fight and we invite all Catholics to be fearless with us! We need businesses, parishes, schools, governments and, most of all, you to engage with us.
We need you to stand up for the marginalized. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for action alerts on important issues, so you can advocate at your local, state, and federal governments.
We need you to pour out compassion and love onto the suffering and broken. Pray for the families we serve.
We need you to join us as we look suffering and injustice in the face. Attend CC101 to see the mission in action.
We need you to be fearless. Visit ccctx.org/fearless.