After a morning in the office, I made the short drive to the headquarters of our Catholic Community Services / Catholic Housing Services – in short, the Catholic Charities arm of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
I cannot begin to express my pride and gratitude for this group of people who put the Gospel into action on behalf of the Church. Over 4,000 staff and 6,000 volunteers throughout Western Washington serve Christ in poor and homeless bringing hope through their compassion and many life-changing services. A quick glance at their Annual Report demonstrates the vast array of services they provide.
During the two years I’ve served as the Archbishop of Seattle, I’ve been moved, even disturbed by the growing presence of people who are homeless, poor, suffering from addictions and mental illness. It seems quite apparent that there are insufficient services to meet their needs.
Pope Francis speaks often about the importance for us to recognize these people, who are our neighbors, brothers and sisters in the family of God. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) is offered as a Gospel message to move all of us from indifference to action on behalf of the poor. We see them and pass them every day.
This is exactly what our staff and volunteers at CCS/CHS do every day. Here are just a few of the services we provide:
- Addiction Treatment and Recovery Services
- Family Centers and Services
- Family Behavioral Health System
- Long-term Care Services
- Farmworker Services
- Homeless Shelters
- Prepares: Meaningful, Local, Sustainable Support For Mothers, Fathers, Families Pre/Post Pregnancy
- Veteran Services
I hear many people speak about their concern and frustration about the growing presence of homeless people in our cities. Yesterday I learned of the great work of CCS/CHS to lift people from homelessness into housing. We build a personal relationship with these people and surround them with the services they need to be able to rebuild their lives. Yet, for every one we lift out of homelessness, two more fall into this state of misery.
As we give thanks for the great ministries of CCS/CHS, I also hope to announce soon other initiatives to further build upon their good works. I invite all of you to ask the Lord to grant us wisdom, to know how to meet the needs of the many vulnerable people in our world today. Let us pray that more hearts, as the Good Samaritan will be moved and motivated to do even more to engage these people, recognize their human dignity, offering them respect rather than disdain.
Together, let us build a better society. Together, let us put the Gospel into action by seeking the face of God in the poor and vulnerable, and being the presence of Christ through our own action, compassion and understanding.
From the Roman Missal: Mass for the Progress of Peoples:
“When a person who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17)
O God, who gave one origin to all peoples and willed to gather from them one family for yourself, fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love and kindle in them a desire for the just advancement of their neighbor, that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all, each human person may be brought to perfection, every division may be removed, and equity and justice may be established in human society.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.