Catholic Charities: Ending all types of poverty in our community

By Sara Ramirez
Catholic Charities of Central Texas

“A basic moral test for our society is how our most vulnerable members are faring.” This is the language used to describe one of the key principles of our Catholic Social Teaching, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. At Catholic Charities of Central Texas, we take seriously our calling to make sure that the most vulnerable are faring well – that not only do they have what they need for basic survival, but also they are treated with respect and dignity and instilled with a sense of hope.
To fully live out this teaching, we first need to ask “who are the poor and vulnerable?” Most often, when we think of poverty we think of a quality of life related to financial or economic status. Certainly there are specific numbers that determine the “poverty threshold” for families in the U.S. based on income and family size. Those numbers are important because they help us wrap our minds around what it costs to provide for the most basic of needs for families. But we believe that the numbers don’t tell the full story.
At Catholic Charities we recognize that financial poverty is just one of the struggles that our most vulnerable neighbors face. The families who come to our doorsteps every day may be struggling financially, but they may also suffer from other types of poverty – educational, social or spiritual. Individuals may not have the education that they need to get a job that pays a living wage, or they may not have the knowledge or skills to cook healthy meals, balance a basic household budget or navigate complex legal systems. They may not have a support system to help them through a challenging time, may have limited transportation which prohibits them from accessing much-needed resources or may not speak the common language of those around them. By the time they walk through our doors, many of our clients have lost hope. They have been victims of what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture,” where those living on the fringes of society are stripped of their dignity and cast aside. 
The programs at Catholic Charities aim to end all the types of poverty that our clients face and restore hope in their futures. We do this by focusing on three major strategies: strengthening families, caring for children and welcoming the stranger.
Counseling Services helps individuals, couples, families and children cope with difficult situations like grief and loss, depression, bullying or life changes. We recognize that counseling can benefit not just those experiencing a challenge, but also it strengthens families by helping to build support systems around those needing help. Our services are open to anyone in the community because we know that the need for mental health counseling doesn’t discriminate based on socioeconomic, educational, racial or religious backgrounds. We offer a sliding scale fee structure to ensure that financial burdens are not a barrier to high quality mental health services that help the person to build courage and confidence in their future. 
Our Gabriel Project Life Center walks with mothers and fathers who are welcoming new life into their families. Through case management and education, new parents gain the education and skills they need to give their children a safe and healthy start at life. Mom and baby items may be provided to families to offset some of the financial challenges of caring for an infant. And through sharing common experiences, a community of parents is formed to support each other in their joys and struggles.
Immigration Legal Services aim to help families stay together and safe. Our team works to ensure that the community is informed about the rights of immigrants and the relief available to them, and that this vulnerable population has access to trustworthy legal representation to guide them through the immigration process. We welcome them as members of our community and help them to navigate the resources they need to integrate into their new surroundings.
At Catholic Charities, we see our neighbors when they are most vulnerable. We make sure that when they walk out of our doors they are faring better than when they walk in, having received the help and hope that they need to thrive in their God-given gifts and dignity.
For more information about the services offered at Catholic Charities of Central Texas, visit 


Attend Catholic Charities 10th Annual Creating Hope Luncheon
Celebrate the mission of Catholic Charities of Central Texas and enjoy a complimentary lunch at the 10th annual Creating Hope Luncheon is on April 14, from noon to 1 p.m. The lunch is free to attend, but reservations must be made by contacting Kristen Erdem at (512) 651-6132 or or visiting

Help with immigration legal services available
For those who have questions about immigration status, or wonder what types of relief may be available, Catholic Charities of Central Texas offers consultations, representation and other immigration relief assistance. Contact Immigration Legal Services attorneys and representatives for more information, at (512) 651-6100 (Austin office) or (979) 822-9340 (Brazos Valley office).
Do you feel stuck? Need someone to talk to?
Catholic Charities’ Counseling Services program can assist clients in achieving the life they want. A trained counselor will work with clients on issues, such as dealing with divorce or anxiety, recovering from depression or strengthening relationships. For more information, call (512) 651-6100 or e-mail
Pregnancy and parenting topics questions
Catholic Charities’ Gabriel Project Life Center will teach mothers and fathers everything they need to know about the development, safety and health of their baby. Attend free classes for mothers and fathers on pregnancy and parenting topics. For more information, call (512) 651-6100 (Austin office) or (979) 822-9340 (Brazos Valley office).