Celebrating 100 Years!
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany
My dear friends,
It was 1917, with America on the verge of entering World War I, when Bishop Thomas Cusack, our fifth bishop, gave his blessing to form a new ministry founded on the Gospel values of mercy and justice: Catholic Charities. Its mission, then as now, was to go out and care for the most vulnerable of God’s people such as orphans, the destitute, the sick and the dying, serving all in the name of Jesus who came into the world to serve, not to be served.
From its founding up until the 1970’s, the works of mercy advanced by Catholic Charities focused primarily on the densely populated urban centers of the Capital District. Beginning under Bishop Edwin Broderick and expanding quite extensively under Bishop Howard Hubbard, Catholic Charities widened its reach to serve all fourteen counties of the diocese. Guided by the extraordinary and legendary leadership of Sister Serena Branson, DC, and later Sister Maureen Joyce, RSM, Catholic Charities’ mission was broadened to include the pursuit of social justice and to address the root causes of poverty. Additional objectives included advocacy for the marginalized, social planning, and public policy development while influencing social welfare legislation on behalf of the poor and vulnerable.
Today, approximately 1,000 Catholic Charities employees and 1,300 volunteers minister to more than 86,000 people annually. The following words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, echo the good works employed every day by these ministers of God’s mercy, these ambassadors of Christ’s love: “The Lord calls upon us to be ‘channels’ of this love firstly towards the least among us, the poorest, who are privileged in His eyes. Let yourselves be continually challenged by the situations of fragility and poverty with which you come into contact and endeavor to offer in the appropriate ways the witness of charity that the Spirit infuses in your hearts.”
I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Board of Trustees, to Chief Executive Officer, Vince Colonno, and to all the wonderful staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Edward B. Scharfenberger, D.D.
Bishop of Albany