Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Living Generously

But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
This passage begs the all-important question: What do you seek first? What drives and motivates how you spend your money, your time, and your talents? We are called to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with, but we are also called to be obedient and generous towards others.
When the opportunity arises, we should be willing to give generously of our time, talent, and treasure. In First Kings 17:10-12 it says:
He [Elijah] called to her [the widow] and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”  As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

This woman was living in a time where famine was throughout the entire land. She was counting sticks to prepare her last meal for herself and her child so they could eat and then die. And Elijah asked her to give him her final meal. What’s truly amazing is that she did it. She did it not because she had an abundance to give, but she had faith that God would provide.
Even more, the widow gave out of what she had. She was not asked to prepare a feast or feed a thousand people – even though God could have done that miracle. She was asked to give what she had. God will never ask us to be generous with what we don’t have – only with what we have. We are called to give generously. After all, all we have is not ours – it’s all God’s.
Let’s all live generously, giving to meet the needs of those in our community.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finding Hope in Hardship

"No one is to be excluded from God's love or our care." - Pope Francis
So often we unintentionally overlook those who are in need, because the need isn’t overtly obvious. Or, sometimes the person does not know how to ask for help. People like Jack.
Jack is a retired veteran and is a very “matter-of-fact” kind of man, even when expressing his deep sense of need. He called Catholic Charities in Indianapolis this summer, looking for utility assistance. Although many calls come through during very hot or very cold months, Jack’s need for assistance was a matter of life or death. See, Jack relies on medical equipment to breathe, and if his equipment was left without power, he might not make it through the weekend.
After calling Jack back, we learned that Jack’s need extended beyond the physical. Jack’s wife Jenny passed away in January. Jenny was the one who handled the bills. Jenny was the one Jack went to for help. But, Jenny wasn’t around any more and Jack wasn’t sure how to pay the bills or how to ask for help.
Catholic Charities was not only able to meet Jack’s utility needs – ensuring his power would run uninterrupted. But, Jack was able to find a place of help and hope as he transitioned to his new “normal.” Catholic Charities is now able to be a friend and support to Jack so he is never left in a vulnerable position again.
Catholic Charities is a reflection of God’s love and care to those in need – the vulnerable and hurting. Sometimes the need is purely physical, but often, there is a deeper wound that needs healing. Catholic Charities is able to walk beside those who are hurting, providing help and creating hope for all who are struggling.
How can each of us better see the needs in those around us and show God’s love and care in the midst of hardship, so no one is left vulnerable?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Choosing Love

“It is our job to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.” – Thomas Merton
We are called and created to love others. Love is a deliberate decision – you choose every day to love those around you. But, are we truly loving those around us, or simply waiting to see if they deserve it – if they have earned it?
Love requires us to give of ourselves. Choosing to care for another’s needs and burdens over our own. But we cannot love of our own abilities. We can try, but our love always comes up short, because our love is selfish. True, selfless love must come from Christ. When we try on our own, we fail, get frustrated, give up, and leave. We cannot love others without first being eternally loved – loved by the One who died to see us live. Loved by the one who knit us together in the womb of our mothers. The One who shows us how to sacrifice and love others.
First John chapter 4 verses 10 – 12 says this:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

The chapter goes on to say this in verses 19 – 21:
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

We are the mirrors of His love. We are the hands and feet of Christ. Not just today, but every day.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Laying Down Yourself

“You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.” – Gordon Hinckley
How often do we take for granted the sacrifices made around us? Do we adequately acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices our spouse makes for our children and us? Are we grateful for those who have served in the military at times – other than holidays? And are we truly appreciative for those who sacrifice in ministry – both at Catholic Charities and in churches, schools, and on mission fields around the world?
If someone were to literally lay their life down for yours, wouldn’t you do everything within your power to show them every day that sacrifice was worth it – their life was not given up in vein? What if someone laid down their life for your child – how would that change both your perspective and attitude?
Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. We didn’t deserve it, but He gave His perfect life in death so we could live. His blood was not only shed for our sins but was also shed for our redemption.
A favorite reminder of this is found in 1 John 4:9 – 12
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.

Giving up one’s self for another takes service to a whole new level. To lay down your life for another – that is true love. To all those who lay down themselves for Catholic Charities – whether with time, prayer, and financial support – thank you. You are the hands and feet of Christ. Thank you for continually providing help, creating hope and serving all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Providing Access to Affordable Housing to Women & Children in Need

All across Indiana, there is a lack of safe, affordable housing options for one of the most vulnerable populations – women and children. Not only is there a lack of access but also a lack of total care needed through housing programs.

Many times when a family becomes homeless it is not for lack of income, it is the lack of having sufficient income with access to supportive services. Catholic Charities has seen families affected by this time and again. And we exist to serve all of these families in need – sometimes with multiple services, and sometimes with just one. 

One example comes from a resident at St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany, Indiana. Sarah* was not in need of all the support the transition home provided but was unable to move into fair market rent housing. Sarah also needed access to therapy and case management, which would have been more difficult, if not impossible, to maintain if she moved out completely. St. Elizabeth saw this need and addressed it in the form of creating a new program called Affordable Supportive Housing (ASH).

The ASH Program started in 2013 with buying a small home behind St. Elizabeth’s transition home. Soon after, St. Elizabeth also purchased a 4-plex housing unit with individual 4 apartments. Sarah was able to quickly move into the home with her small daughter. To this day she remains in the home, working towards moving into either fair market rent or, more importantly, buying her own home.
Without the support of Catholic Charities programs like ASH, families will not have success in moving into fair market housing. 

Catholic Charities: Providing help. Creating hope. Serving All.
*Names changed

Monday, August 11, 2014

Providing Caregiver Support

At Catholic Charities, we see so many people come to us living in a challenging situation. Often, they have done nothing wrong, but rather, something has changed in their world and they cannot make it on their own. That’s why we exist – to provide help, create hope and serve all – no matter the situation. To serve people in need… like Joyce* and John*

Joyce was referred to the Catholic Charities in Indianapolis Caregiver Support Program by a social worker with Eskenazi Health House Calls for Seniors because she was in need of grab bars. Joyce's caregiving journey began 5 years ago. Joyce had just retired when her friend John had his first stroke. She became his Power Of Attorney (POA) and felt that the care he was receiving in the long-term care system was inadequate. Out of love and care, Joyce moved John into her home. At the time, Joyce was 66-years-old and John was 68, and although she received assistance through home health services, the physical strain on Joyce was significant, as she suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. And although John could walk, he required stabilization, assistance getting into the bathtub, help to sit and stand, was nonverbal, and continued to have strokes.

To add to the challenges she was facing, Joyce's 44-year-old son also lived in her house. Although he helped when he could, his two kidney transplants made Joyce reluctant to ask for his physical assistance.  

That's when Joyce contacted the Caregiver Support Program.

The Caregiver Support Program provided help through home modifications: grab bars, a hand held shower, a shower chair, and a fire extinguisher. As a result of the modifications, John is able to do more for himself. Although he still needs assistance, he is now able to participate in his care. And thanks to this new-found independence through home modifications, John has spoken a full sentence for the first time since his first stroke! John is making more progress every day. Joyce appreciates the reduction in physical strain on her body and the relief and care she received from the Caregiver Support Program.

For more information on the Caregiver Support Program and other Catholic Charities services, visit HelpCreateHope.org.

Catholic Charities: Providing help. Creating Hope. Serving All.

*Names have been changed 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Serving Everyone...EVEN Catholics

You may not have noticed the subtle new addition to our Catholic Charities tagline, "Serving All." For many years now we have simply stated that the purpose of the work that we do is to "Provide Help and Create Hope." This mission remains the same as does the fact that this help and hope is offered to anyone, regardless of race, creed, color, or any other distinction except to be a person in need.

However, the most common misconception about Catholic Charities continues to be that you have to be Catholic to receive our services. This has never been the case and never will be! Sometimes we even say in jest, "we serve everyone... EVEN Catholics."

We serve everyone because WE are Catholic, not because our clients are or are not. Our faith compels us to, as Jesus taught us, to regard every human being as a child made in the image and likeness of God and is therefore entitled to our care and concern. The very first tenant of Catholic Social Teaching is the recognition of the inherent dignity of the human person. It is the high regard for all of human life that drives us to seek out the lost and forgotten.

The fact is that most of the time we have no idea about the faith tradition of those we serve. We simply act in such a way that we hope and pray they will have an experience - an encounter - with the Living God, through our staff and volunteers. 

Catholic Charities - Providing Help. Creating Hope. Serving All.


David Siler
Executive Director, Catholic Charities at Archdiocese of Indianapolis