The history of organized charitable outreach sponsored by the Catholic Church in North Carolina began over a century ago with the establishment of hospitals that offered free or low fee services to the poor by Benedictine monks and the Sisters of Mercy. The next major step in charitable outreach occurred in 1948 when Bishop Vincent S. Waters of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh (which at that time covered the entire state) incorporated The Bureau of Catholic Charities to provide services to the poor and vulnerable. One year later, Bishop Waters extended services across the state with the opening of a Catholic Charities branch office in Charlotte. The agency was initially staffed by the Missionary Servants of the Blessed Trinity, an order of Roman Catholic sisters devoted to education, health care, and social services. The sisters provided pregnancy support, maternity care, foster care, and adoption services to families throughout the state of North Carolina.
Following a mid-century trend among some Catholic Charities agencies, in 1962 Bishop Waters changed the agency name to Catholic Social Services, Inc. After the formation of the Diocese of Charlotte, Bishop Michael J. Begley organized the charitable outreach in western North Carolina under the legal name of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, Inc. On May 17, 2013— the 40th anniversary of the agency’s incorporation – a next step in the life of the agency took place with the renaming to Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte by Bishop Peter J. Jugis. This name change and the adoption of a new logo were made to renew agency roots in the Church’s long history of charitable outreach to the poor, vulnerable, and those in need of services.
Since its beginning with three religious sisters, Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte has grown to a staff of over sixty professionals and hundreds of volunteers providing services encompassing assistance to individuals and families experiencing a need for:
- Foster care, adoption, and pregnancy services
- Individual, marriage, and family counseling
- Distribution of donated services to the needy
- Family enrichment services such as elder ministry, marriage preparation, and natural family planning
- Refugee resettlement and immigration services
- Disaster relief
- Economic opportunity development
- Support for pregnant teens and teens in crisis
- Social concerns education and advocacy, including justice and peace, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and respect life outreach
These services are provided either free of charge or on a sliding fee scale regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.
Demonstrating commitment to quality services, Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte has been accredited since 2007 by the Council on Accreditation, a national accrediting body for human service agencies. The agency has been licensed as a child-placing agency by the State of North Carolina since 1954.
Although the Catholic Church’s charitable outreach has operated under a variety of legal names since the 1940’s, the essential mission of carrying out the work of charity has remained constant.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte strengthens families, builds communities, and reduces poverty.
For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities USA, formerly the National Conference of Catholic Charities, has guided and supported the vast network of Catholic Charities agencies nationwide in a common mission to serve, advocate, and convene.
“Throughout its 100-year history, Catholic Charities has been understood as a “movement” committed to social transformation, but a movement also deeply connected to its roots in the Gospel and its Catholic identify and tradition. We find there the clear mandate that we must be of service to our neighbor in need, but in a way that respects the inherent dignity of every human being.”
– Excerpt from Catholic Charities USA: 100 Years at the Intersection of Charity and Justice
To learn more about the history of Catholic Charities USA, click here.