May 4, 2012

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Our sensational Catholic Church

David SilerIf you were to only read the mainstream media with regard to the Catholic Church, you would form a completely inaccurate and negative opinion of the current life of our Church.

You wouldn’t know that every day the Church is educating millions of children around the world. Or providing exceptional health care for the insured, the uninsured and those unable to pay anything at all.

Or caring for the poorest of the poor in nearly every city, village, state and country on the planet—not to mention the spiritual food that is provided every moment of every day around the world.

Apparently, these and many more heroic acts are not “sensational” enough to make the news.

However, I would consider it truly sensational that individuals, parishes, businesses, dioceses, foundations and other social service providers have donated more than $800,000 to Catholic Charities in our archdiocese thus far to provide relief to those affected by the tornadoes on March 2 in southern Indiana.

With this financial support and the help of thousands of volunteers who will share their time and talent over the many months to come, we will be able to help reconstruct homes that were uninsured or underinsured, help tornado victims purchase items lost in the storm and help people make up income that they may have lost following the disaster. Together, it will be sensational what we will be able to accomplish.

Considering our current economy, you might also find it sensational that just six weeks ago Catholic Charities opened a brand new family homeless shelter in Bedford called Becky’s Place.

What makes this new ministry especially sensational is that the entire faith community and much of the civic community in Bedford came together to make it possible. It often goes unnoticed how effectively our Church provides leadership in bringing people together to make great things happen.

It is completely unnecessary to sensationalize the fact that Becky’s Place is currently helping to care for eight children who were previously homeless or relocated from house to house.

During a recent party at the shelter to celebrate birthdays where the children were making homemade pizzas, the mothers remarked that this was one of the many “firsts” that their children were experiencing. Here, children are learning simple things like saying “please” and “thank you.” One of the children is now excited that he has learned to cover his mouth when he coughs so “the germs don’t fly away.”

Caring for children from troubled circumstances is not without its many challenges, some we might consider humorous or lighthearted.

One Becky’s Place resident recently decided that he would share his bare backside with drivers on Fifth Street!

It would be best, of course, if these children’s parents would have taught them these most basis life skills, and what is and is not appropriate. However, we learn that their parents did not learn this when they were growing up, and now we have the chance to break generational patterns of behavior and hopelessness.

Now that’s truly sensational!

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at

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