In a recent interview to discuss the 75th anniversary of Catholic Charities service in the community, Janet Valente Pape described the mission of the organization as doing “the rock-bottom work of the Gospel.”
What does that mean? That at its very core, the ministry is providing services that Jesus himself provided. Help to the poor, food for the hungry, and hope for all in need.
Pape was the executive director of Catholic Charities from 1992 to 2010. During her tenure, she said, the ministry was focused on community need – and it still is today – all while preserving and honoring the dignity of each person served.
“Catholic Charities does such important work for the community because it is a reflection of the community,” Pape said. Catholic Charities is one of the most broad-based social service agencies in the community, she added, because it provides such a diverse array of services that are a direct result of the needs of the community.
She said the mission during her time working within the organization was one of service to families of any race, religion, or economic background, just as it is today. And that mission is based in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“What an agency like Catholic Charities does is sow seeds of hope because though our encounter may be often brief we should not underestimate how impactful it might be in someone's life,” she said.
In considering the next 75 years of service to the community, Pape believes it is critical for organizations like Catholic Charities to exist.
“I really don’t think people understand how many people struggle,” she said. “There would be a very real loss in our community without this agency. There are people who would suffer because of it.”
Her hope for the future is that there will always be more than enough support so the organization can continue the mission of Jesus.