Catholic Charities: Serving those most in need for 150 years

Two girls work in a Catholic Charities kitchen. The nonprofit now serves 1 million meals a yr to folks in want.

A former restaurant employee within the Highland Park space of St. Paul, Daybreak Folger, 49, discovered herself with no place to reside and with no job.

Starting in July 2017, Folger stayed at Larger Floor St. Paul’s girls’s emergency shelter till January 2019, when she moved onto the fourth flooring of the Larger Floor residence. “I’ve a reasonably large room and up right here, it’s actual quiet,” Folger stated. “It feels good to have an area that’s mine.”

Larger Floor St. Paul, which opened in downtown St. Paul in 2017, is the centerpiece of a $100 million Dorothy Day Place housing and social companies campus. The most important public-private partnership in housing and social companies in Minnesota historical past, Larger Floor St. Paul was constructed and is run by Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis — a nonprofit that final yr celebrated its a hundred and fiftieth anniversary of serving folks in want.

“I like that it’s referred to as ‘Larger Floor,’ as Catholic Charities is consistently elevating our collective aspirations about how we reside out the Gospel,” stated Tim Welsh, 54, vice chair of shopper and enterprise banking at U.S. Financial institution and a Catholic Charities board member. “We should do extra for the homeless — we’ve got to lift our sights.”

Dorothy Day Place supplies emergency shelter and everlasting housing, plus bodily, psychological and chemical well being care companies for long-term homeless adults like Folger, a lot of whom have well being challenges or face different boundaries to housing. It additionally provides housing search and placement companies, job coaching, employment counseling, monetary and authorized assist companies, web entry, meals, showers, laundry and extra.

Catholic Charities has a powerful historical past of assembly group wants for over 150 years, starting with its first program in 1869, St. Joseph’s German Catholic Orphan Society in St. Paul.

Catholic Charities’ adoption program, which started within the early 1900s and has since been discontinued, introduced many kids into caring households.

“This system was in response to kids in want following the Civil Battle and the hundreds of youngsters who had been despatched to Minnesota on orphan trains,” stated Tim Marx, 64, Catholic Charities president and CEO.

Males and boys hoist the sign up 1900 for the orphanage in St. Paul, which supplied lodging for 127 kids.

The mid-1900s introduced an enlargement of Catholic Charities’ work to incorporate not solely the well being and well-being of youngsters, however households, the aged and people prone to or experiencing homelessness. By 1977, Catholic Charities had expanded the depth and complexity of companies supplied to these most in want — no matter religion, background or circumstance — who more and more face the consequences of racial injustice and trauma.

Catholic Charities has grown into a company with greater than 500 workers that operates 24 hours, seven days per week, serving “these most in want within the darkest days of their lives,” Marx stated. “We nonetheless have that very same core mission and philosophical strategy, however have frequently tailored to the present wants of the group.”

Now, Catholic Charities is the most important complete social service nonprofit within the Twin Cities. It operates 26 packages from early childhood training to supporting older adults, from psychological well being help to serving to folks safe and keep housing, at 17 areas, plus further group websites. In its 2019 fiscal yr, Catholic Charities served almost 23,000 males, girls, kids and households.

HOPE IN ACTIONAssist the mission of Catholic Charities at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 by becoming a member of the net Night of Hope in Motion, a digital different to the annual St. Nicholas Dinner, which has typically drawn greater than 1,000 folks. The night will function a particular pre-recorded video for hundreds of supporters to tune in from their houses and see what 2020 has been like for Catholic Charities. The presentation additionally will showcase methods the group has taken motion to assist the nonprofit’s mission. For extra data, go to

Assist the mission of Catholic Charities at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 by becoming a member of the net Night of Hope in Motion, a digital different to the annual St. Nicholas Dinner, which has typically drawn greater than 1,000 folks. The night will function a particular pre-recorded video for hundreds of supporters to tune in from their houses and see what 2020 has been like for Catholic Charities. The presentation additionally will showcase methods the group has taken motion to assist the nonprofit’s mission. For extra data, go to

Gardening within the Sixties with a number of kids below the care of Catholic Charities.

The most important service space — people experiencing or prone to homelessness — consists of the Ramsey County Household Service Heart in Maplewood and Larger Floor St. Paul and Larger Floor Minneapolis, encompassing the Dorothy Day Residence and the Richard M. Schulze Household Basis St. Paul Alternative Heart, and the Mary F. Frey Minneapolis Alternative Heart and Hope Avenue Shelter for homeless youth in Minneapolis, and several other different packages.

Further Catholic Charities packages serve and assist the aged, folks with disabilities and youngsters and households, reminiscent of help with case administration for older adults that assist them stay impartial of their houses, and a day therapy program that provides complete psychological well being and training companies to elementary college kids with extreme emotional and behavioral challenges.

Mary Ann Sullivan, 74, labored at Catholic Charities for 30 years, retiring as vice chairman for program operations in 2015. “The group wants had been sturdy, however we had been consistently evaluating our packages to verify we weren’t duplicating work already being completed in order that we may actually have an effect the place it was wanted most,” she stated.

“We listened to the folks being served, realized from our frontline workers and tried to guarantee that our work achieved outcomes,” Sullivan stated. “That’s how we moved away from packages like prenatal care and adoption work into housing and racial justice, as these wants stored coming stronger and stronger.”

William Reiling bought the constructing that housed Dorothy Day Heart in St. Paul in 1984, three years after it first opened as a storefront and shared area with an autobody store and a enterprise workplace. With demand for companies rising, Reiling supplied all the property at favorable lease phrases to Catholic Charities till the nonprofit may buy the constructing. In 1985, a fundraising marketing campaign was launched to buy, renovate and broaden the property.

What makes Catholic Charities “Catholic” is its basis: Catholic social educating.

“That’s the guidepost to every part we do; we consider each human that walks by means of our door is made within the picture of God and deserves to be handled with dignity,” stated Umo Udo, 57, Catholic Charities director of non secular care. Udo stated she works with shoppers to assist them uncover and make clear their very own self-worth, values and spirituality by means of values formation and empowerment teams, Bible research, one-on-one consultations and grief assist teams.

“Catholic social educating to Catholic Charities is just like the legs of a desk; with out the legs, it’s not a desk,” Udo stated. “Each consumer that involves us has some stage of trauma, and every part that we do, we’ve got to take a look at by means of that lens.”

Udo describes Catholic Charities as “offering hope even when it’s all caught. I had a male consumer who had skilled so many losses, you couldn’t even consider. A variety of males don’t course of grief, and when it’s an excessive amount of to bear, they flip to medication or alcohol. That was his demise.”

“He had a protracted beard and was fairly a sight, however I ignored all of that, talked to him and listened,” Udo stated. “His anger and despair started to dissipate. On the finish, he requested if I may come again, which was important as he was suicidal. … He had been given hope.”

Two weeks later, Udo returned and barely acknowledged the person. “He’d shaved his beard, cleaned up and seemed 10 years youthful,” she stated. “He informed me he’d heard of a spot that offers garments and meals to folks in want, and that he was going to volunteer there. Seeing this man unravel and are available up from that abyss of hopelessness made for an excellent day.”

In the present day’s must confront the general public well being and financial implications of the novel coronavirus pandemic in addition to the nation’s racial reckoning within the wake of the Could 25 police-involved demise in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an African American, present distinctive challenges and alternatives for Catholic Charities.

“Our problem is the right way to actually manifest areas and locations the place folks really feel like they’re not solely being supplied alternative, however a possibility to see themselves and expertise hope that’s larger and brighter than only a handout,” stated T. Mychael Rambo, a theater skilled, adjunct College of Minnesota professor, Catholic Charities board member and previous consumer who lived on the Dorothy Day homeless shelter in St. Paul for just a few months in 1990 throughout a time of transition and wish in his life.

“Dorothy Day was a powerful tower for me. I discovered a protected area to be and gather my ideas and on the similar time, obtain well-needed assets about the right way to transition out of there,” Rambo stated.

Catholic Charities is working diligently to be a protected and wholesome shelter and meal supplier within the midst of COVID-19 and to satisfy the rising wants. This previous yr, the group supplied 530,000 nights of shelter and housing, and 1 million meals, due to 16,000 donors, greater than 4,000 volunteers contributing 190,000 hours of service, and greater than 500 workers members working across the clock.

Roughly 36% of Catholic Charities income comes from personal contributions. “We obtain monetary and volunteer assist from Catholics, parishes and lots of different religion organizations which are surprisingly various,” Marx stated. “We urge our supporters to affix us as advocates as nicely, primarily based on that Catholic social educating basis for the widespread good, to combine ourselves up within the social and political debate that issues a lot.”

“Non-public donations can’t maintain the load of the calls for and desires,” stated Anne Cullen Miller, 54, president of the Catholic Neighborhood Basis of Minnesota primarily based in St. Paul, the nation’s largest Catholic group basis, whose presents maintain most of the packages supplied by Catholic Charities and different nonprofit organizations.

“Catholic Charities is concentrated on public-private partnerships and the place they will transfer the dial, reminiscent of their work with Larger Floor and different efforts to place extra housing models on-line,” Miller stated. “And the necessity has by no means been higher.”

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis



  • 1869 A gaggle from Assumption in St. Paul led by the pastor, Benedictine Father Clement Staub, establishes St. Joseph’s German Catholic Orphan Society for youngsters left parentless by hazards of pioneer life, the Civil Battle and epidemics. In 1877, the society opened St. Joseph’s German Catholic Orphan Asylum in St. Paul, which was staffed by Benedictine sisters.
  • 1878 The Minneapolis Catholic Orphan Asylum (later generally known as the Catholic Boys House) opens; operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
  • 1887 Development on the long-lasting “orphanage” constructing at 46th and Chicago in Minneapolis is accomplished. It’s the website of what finally turns into St. Joseph’s House for Youngsters, additionally operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.



  • 1920 The Catholic Central Bureau (later Catholic Welfare Companies) was established in Minneapolis, in addition to the Bureau of Catholic Charities (later generally known as Catholic Social Service) in St. Paul. They provide household aid, care of ageing, youngster welfare and different crucial companies.
  • 1960 The St. Paul and Minneapolis orphanages merge into what turns into generally known as St. Joseph’s House for Youngsters in Minneapolis; operated by the Benedictines.
  • 1968 Department I opens, providing meals and daytime companies. This marks the start of Catholic Charities offering emergency assist to these most in want.

Service and advocacy

1970 – 2020

  • 1977 Catholic Social Service of St. Paul, Catholic Welfare Companies in Minneapolis, St. Joseph’s House for Youngsters and Seton Heart consolidate into Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • Nineteen Eighties A nationwide recession fuels important development in Catholic Charities’ work serving the “poorest of the poor,” together with refugee resettlement within the wake of the Vietnam Battle.
  • 1981 The Dorothy Day Heart opens in St. Paul as a daytime storefront serving 50 males experiencing homelessness. Close by Mary Corridor is bought to create a males’s shelter. A girls’s shelter is added at Mary Corridor in 1989.
  • 1984 Catholic Charities’ Workplace for Social Justice is established; at the moment it’s situated within the coronary heart of Dorothy Day Place in downtown Saint Paul.
  • 2012 Larger Floor Minneapolis opens, combining emergency and transitional shelter and everlasting housing.
  • 2019 Dorothy Day Place — a $100 million two-building campus in St. Paul — opens providing shelter, everlasting housing and assist companies and serving 1,000 folks per day.
  • 2020 A $70 million, public-private partnership in Minneapolis is constructing “Exodus 2.0” residence for greater than 200 folks, together with veterans, single adults and folks with complicated medical situations.


— Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Tags: Catholic Charities, Higher Ground, Rambo

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