The issues of today

by Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities

CathChar

Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities

At Catholic Charities North Dakota, our main priority is serving others through our existing adoption, counseling and guardianship programs. Yet in our work, we receive all manners of requests for financial assistance.

Even though we have very limited funds for financial aid, nonetheless, we try to help with little things where we can. For instance, we provided inexpensive prepaid phones to a woman in danger of domestic violence and an elderly man so he could maintain contact with his grown children.

In my time at Catholic Charities North Dakota, it has become clear to me that the problems we face—both our clients and society in general—have become more and more costly and complex. If someone is behind on their bills, they often face many other challenges too.

More research is showing how often those suffering from poverty, homelessness, addictions, or who are in prison also have serious physical or mental health issues. Financially, with the cost of a month’s rent at $500-1,000 or more for bigger families, we cannot offer rental assistance. And, unfortunately, if a renter or homeowner is a few months behind, it can become an insurmountable burden when they are on fixed or limited incomes.

Many times, we can share referral information about other resources we are familiar with but we also don’t want to provide incorrect or outdated information. The last thing we want to do for someone in need is to send them on a runaround, wasting their time and that of other service providers. Other times all we can do is listen. We simply don’t have the funds to help everyone we would like to.

While we would like to do much more as far as financial aid, we are extremely limited. Even if we had thousands of dollars to give away, that might only help a few families with rent.

Some of these financial struggles may be traced to deeper social principles, such as the life and dignity of all people, a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, and the rights and dignity of workers. For anyone interested in learning more, in February the Diocese of Fargo is offering a collection of short courses through a program called the “Catholic Collage.” The class “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” will be co-taught by Mike Hagstrom, President of the St. John Paul II Catholic Schools Network, and me. Of course there will be a number of other great options too! Learn more at catholiccollage.com.

On the topic of sheltering for the homeless, it is important to note there are other groups that help with specific housing needs. We have noted before how the Saint Gianna Maternity Home in Warsaw offers a place to live for women with crisis pregnancies, and the Jeremiah Program in Fargo helps single mothers rise from poverty two generations at a time. Recently, the Presentation Partners in Housing started a new innovative, the “Housing Navigator” program, that puts housing first in an effort to help people find safe places to stay before addressing other matters such as finding jobs and addiction recovery.

Catholic Charities has also collaborated with Churches United for the Homeless to raise awareness of their ministry, along with our work, during the Fargo Diocese’s Matt Maher Concert this past August. As an agency, we always look to the future in North Dakota.

Another rising concern is our aging population. We receive calls from people asking us to serve as guardians for their parents or to help with nursing home care. Our Executive Director, Dianne Nechiporenko, has a great heart for our elderly and we are currently looking at ways we can address some of their needs.

Each year we also recognize a person or group that has lived out their faith through serving others with a Caritas Award. The Caritas Award was instituted in 2003 at the 80th anniversary celebration of Catholic Charities North Dakota. It is presented to an individual, couple, organization, or group of people who, through their life of faith in action and their commitment to the works of charity and justice, embody the spirit of Jesus in making real and present God’s love, compassion, and caring for the least of his people. Caritas stands for “charity and compassion towards all people.”

This year we are honoring Sisters Agatha Lucey, Josephine Brennan, and Mary Beauclair of the Presentation Sisters in Fargo at an Award Luncheon on March 13 for their dedicated service to the elderly. More information about the celebration is available on our website at www.CatholicCharitiesND.org.

Chad Prososki is the Director of Development and Community Relations for Catholic Charities North Dakota. For more than 90 years, Catholic Charities North Dakota and its supporters have been putting their faith in action helping people, changing lives. You can reach Chad at info@catholiccharitiesnd.org or (701) 235-4457.