Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte in Far Western North Carolina

Catholic Charities work out of Murphy, NC focuses its efforts in the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, and Swain counties working in partnership with other regional agencies and through a collaborative ecumenical approach to promote lasting, systemic change in western North Carolina.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte's eighth Bishop Begley Conference on Appalachia (BBCA) was held on September 23 at Hayesville First United Methodist Church.  The conference brought together an ecumenical audience to address Food Insecurity in Far Western North Carolina through learning, prayer, and the distribution of small grants. Read the article on the conference that appeared in the October 13 edition of the Catholic News Herald.

At the BBCA, Catholic Charities Far West Growing Opportunities Grants totaling $16,000 were distributed to seven non-profits combating food insecurity in the four counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain.  Funded projects included: food pantries (3), community gardens (3), and a non-profit assisting individuals facing both low income and diabetes to receive health appropriate food assistance.  A list of grant recipients and the names of the funded projects are below.

2017 Catholic Charities Growing Opportunities Grant Recipients

Bryson City Food Pantry, Bryson City - “Family Food Security Swain 2017”
First Free Will Baptist Church, Hayesville - “Food Ministry Expansion Project”
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Hayesville - “God’s Little Gardens”
Living Waters Food Pantry, Cherokee - “Living Waters Food Pantry”
Restoration House-WNC, Bryson City - “Restoration House Community Garden”
Still Water Landing, Hickory Stand UMC, Brasstown - “Waste No Want Not”
Swain County Caring Corner, Byson City - “Holistic Care Program for Diabetic Patients”

Eighteen Years of CCDOC Growing Opportunity Grants

The Growing Opportunity Small Grants Program assists the economic development activities of organizations that are committed to sustainable economic growth in western North Carolina. Since the fall of 2000, over $327,000 of CCDOC Growing Opportunities Grants have been dispersed to organizations working in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain Counties.  Grant monies come from an Economic Development Fund established by the Diocese of Charlotte after the sale of Good Shepherd Home Health Agency in Hayesville in the 1990s. The decision was made to target the proceeds of the sale in far western NC by having the return on the principal benefit the people and communities of far western NC region through an annual grant program.  In Memoriam…We remember in prayer and gratitude Sister Loretto John Meehan, S.C. who died this past June 5, 2017 in New York City. Thirty years of her religious life were in ministry as a nurse in Hayesville at Glenmary Nursing Home and at Good Shepherd Home Heath Agency.  The bridge linking Cherokee and Clay Counties is named in her honor.  Thanks to the dedicated work of Sister Meehan and others, Good Shepherd Home Health Agency thrived, and when sold, enabled a substantial sum of money to be available for the Economic Development Fund.

Family Strengthening

Through the Far-West Families First Program, Catholic Charities Faith Community Coordinator builds collaborations between faith communities, social services departments, and families who are seeking to improve their lives in spite of distressed economic conditions.  Catholic Charities also offers counseling assistance for individuals and families facing challenges to their family strength and stability. Call 828-835-3535.

Financial Literacy

The Assets Building Long-term Equity (ABLE) Financial Literacy Program has worked to help individuals and families improve their financial knowledge and skills through workshops, fairs, and seminars.  Catholic Charities has partnered with OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling to bring mortgage payment help, foreclosure relief, and consumer credit counseling to far western North Carolina.   Catholic Charities has provided publicity and space enabling OnTrack to extend its services to the far western counties of North Carolina.  



Catholic Charities presence in far western NC was initially called the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). It was established by the Diocese of Charlotte as a tangible response to the call to action of previous pastoral letters of US Bishops whose dioceses include the land of Appalachia. This program of Catholic Charities is located in the Bishop Begley Center for Economic Development in Murphy. The center is named for the first bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, Most Reverend Michael J. Begley, who in 1973 became president of the Catholic Committee on Appalachia (CCA). Under his guidance, in 1975 the CCA published “This Land is Home to Me” – a pastoral statement of solidarity with the poor and powerless in Appalachia.

In November 1997, the pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind” (PDF) was published. This pastoral letter by (then) Bishop G. Curlin of Charlotte and (then) Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of Raleigh discussed the disparities in economic opportunities within our state. In response to that letter, the Diocese of Charlotte commissioned the Faith in Action Institute of Greensboro to conduct a study of the needs and assets of the far western region of North Carolina. The Office of Economic Opportunity was founded in 1999 to implement the study’s recommendations for action. 


The Good Work of Catholic Charities is Recognized

In May 2013, Catholic Charities USA 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award went to Rev. George Kloster, former pastor of St. William Catholic Church in Murphy and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hayesville.  To learn more about Rev. Kloster receiving this award, click here. 

Catholic Charities in far western NC has received recognition for its community impact from both within its service area and outside it, including the nationally-awarded 2007 Catholic Charities USA Family Strengthening Award (PDF)

In February 2010, David Brown, publisher of Cherokee County newspaper The Cherokee Scout, praised the OEO and its work in far western North Carolina in a column called “Justice not Just Dream (PDF).”

In May 2012, Catholic Charities received the Credit Where Credit is Due Award (PDF) from OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling in recognition of its organizing and hosting OnTrack’s foreclosure prevention and financial counseling workshops in far western North Carolina. 

In the News


Following a March 2012 tornado, Catholic Charities helped with disaster recovery efforts.

Dec. 20, 2012 – Catholic News Herald: “CSS helps with disaster recovery efforts following tornado in Murphy”

The Fifth Bishop Begley Conference on Appalachia was held on March 23, 2012, in Cherokee, NC. This event highlighted sustainable agriculture and rural economic growth in far western North Carolina.

April 24, 2012 – Catholic News Herald newspaper: “Bishop Begley conference highlights sustainable agriculture”

Spring 2012 – National Catholic Rural Life Conference magazine: “Addressing Rural Poverty at Rural Ministry Conference” (PDF)

Spring 2012 – Charities USA magazine: “Catholic Social Services of Charlotte Diocese Holds Appalachia Conference” (PDF)

The OEO Growing Opportunities Small Grants awarded in June of 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of OEO grant giving in far western North Carolina.

July 9, 2010 – Catholic News Herald: “’Ramping’ up the local economy” (PDF)

“Partnering Ecumenically for Social Action and Justice,” the fourth Bishop Begley Conference on Appalachia and the 10th anniversary celebration of OEO, was held on Oct. 23 and 24, 2009.

Oct. 30, 2009 – Catholic News Herald: “Everyone is our neighbor” (PDF)

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014