Catholic Charities: Now is the time to end poverty for 45 million Americans
By Sara Ramirez
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
More than 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” that we are still fighting today. Certainly over the last 50 years many advances have been made to help those living in poverty to have access to basic food, shelter and clothing, but with more than 45 million people living in poverty in the U.S. alone, the war is far from over. The reality is that if money was the only thing required to end poverty, we would have ended it long ago, but at Catholic Charities we recognize that the solution is more complex than money alone.
Every client who walks through our doors has a story to tell. For some it’s a journey to a new land of new opportunities; for others it’s the fear of being pregnant and alone; and for yet more it is the shame of being unable to provide a roof over their families’ heads and put food on the table. Our response could very easily be as simple as giving a bus pass, a box of diapers or bag of food to help them make it to the next day, but we know that isn’t enough. We recognize the need to hear the stories, build relationships and accompany families through a crisis and toward stability. Yes, that often involves financial or material support, but more importantly includes the counsel, education and encouragement that empower our clients to reach their goals.
As we enter this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, we are encouraged to be “Merciful like the Father.” He invites us this year to experience more fully and intimately God’s mercy toward us, and in turn to “[open] our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society.” He challenges us to rediscover and practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Our diocese has also recently launched its new pastoral plan themed “Encounter that leads to Transformation.” The plan once again calls us to encounter Christ, embrace his example of servant leadership and to be a witness to him not only in our ministries but to all we encounter on a daily basis. While the plan has broad implications, there is a specific calling for outreach to those at the periphery of society, in order to affirm the life and dignity of the human person and to provide spiritual and material support for people in need. This theme beautifully reflects the way that Catholic Charities strives to live out our faith every day. We take the time to truly encounter the clients who walk through our doors, and to encounter Christ in them. We provide services that are more than a transaction, but build upon our encounters and lead to transformation and a way out of poverty.
Catholic Charities USA has launched the movement #End45: Raise a Hand to End Poverty in America to raise awareness of the more than 45 million individuals living in poverty, and the millions more who are one crisis away from losing everything. It’s timely that this national campaign aligns with our global Year of Mercy as well as the launch of our local pastoral plan, both of which challenge us to live our faith more vibrantly and in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who suffer. Pope Francis calls us to “open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!”
In this Year of Mercy, consider joining Catholic Charities in our war against poverty and injustice and be part of the transformation from poverty to prosperity. Now is the time to #END45 and bring God’s mercy to the least among us. For more information about Catholic Charities, visit www.CCCTX.org.