During a recession, not forgetting the less fortunate

There’s no getting around it: This holiday season, the economy is on everyone’s mind.

People of faith from all traditions are worried about losing their jobs, finding new jobs, losing their savings and college funds, and on and on. Many religious congregations are taking in less money — in contributions, dues, etc. — and are cutting programs and ministries or thinking about it. They also have less to spend on needs in their communities.

I’ve been talking to clergy in recent days about what they can say or do to help people deal with their economic angst. I’ll be writing about it next week.

One message that I have been hearing is that people, no matter their fears and concerns, cannot forget about the less fortunate.

Here’s a good example: On Saturday (Dec. 13), more than 130 volunteers are expected to heed the call of Catholic Charities of New York and gather at the big K-Mart on Astor Place, where they will be buying hats, gloves, jackets, scarves, etc. for needy families. They’ll be shopping from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Catholic Charities’ St. Nicholas Adopt-A-Family project matches gifts with selected families that Catholic Charities caseworkers have seen throughout the year.

Needless to say, Catholic Charities is looking for more volunteers to provide cash or shopping time.

If you would like to contribute, contact Kathleen McGowan at 212.371.1011, ext. 2525, or e-mail St.Nicholas@archny.org.

With gas and food prices soaring, Catholic Charities is bringing relief to Ulster County

Catholic Charities of New York is expanding its presence in Ulster County, where the rising costs of gas and food are leaving people hurting.

monsignor_sullivan.gif“Due to the lack of public transportation, and the great distances involved in traveling in the Hudson Valley, the area has been particularly hard hit by the rising cost of gas,” Monsignor Kevin Sullivan (pictured), executive director of Catholic Charities, said. “The addition of services in the area will help support those experiencing economic and emotional hardship.”

Catholic Charities will begin providing services at St Mary-St. Andrew parish in Ellenville and St. Mary of the Snow parish in Saugerties. Church leaders make things sound pretty dire.

“Ellenville has been in a terrible economic situation for some time,” said Father John Lynch, pastor at St. Mary/St Andrew. “People are getting desperate. We are experiencing a brain drain and talent drain, following the closing of our local factory in the past year. People are leaving to put bread on the table and some have even gone to Mexico to get employment.”

Mary Ellen Ros, Catholic Charities’ director for the Hudson Valley, put it like this:

Coping with increased costs, families in all the counties are coming to Catholic Charities with energy bills that are double what they’ve been in the past. They simply can’t afford to pay these bills and keep food on the table.

Business leaders support Catholic Charities

Cardinal Egan will ring the opening bell for the NY Stock Exchange on Monday morning.

logo.jpgThe Stock Exchange will host the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity 2008 Wall Street Breakfast. New York’s business leaders will gather to show support for Catholic Charities of New York.

The guest speaker will be Ron Insana, CNBC’s senior analyst and commentator.

Catholic Charities says that the event is expected to raise $500,000 for its many programs.