The Good the Catholic Church Does
From Margaret P. DeFelice, Senior English Major, Holy Family University
With the negative light now shining down upon the Catholic Church, the majority of Americans fail to appreciate the good that the Church does. Instead, the Church is portrayed in a negative way. From schools to parishes to charities to even the Vatican, the Catholic Church performs a broad range of charitable deeds that go largely unnoticed by those determined to view it as a malevolent organization.
Regarding the benevolent acts of the Church with schooling, let’s start with the school academic year of 2011-2012. Over two million students, including myself, received a Catholic education. A seemingly small institution, Little Flower Catholic High School in size but certainly not in spirit, run by the Catholic Church changed my life forever. When I entered school, I was a shy outcast who had no one to call a friend. I left that school confident, not only in my outlook on life but in who I am.
At the beginning of my sophomore year I met the person who graciously changed the direction of my future. We met in her first Little Flower’s Stage Crew meeting. She impressed me with her extensive knowledge of Shakespeare and his plays, and I impressed her with my artistic talent, and we bonded over our love for books and writing. Before meeting her, the dream to become a writer would never have come to mind. Without her, I’d be heading towards some type of job, not my preferred career.
I also witnessed the change in the other lives of the students because of the kindness and generosity of the students and faculty. Little Flower is a family to all students, faculty and community.
Holy Family University, a Philadelphia Catholic College, is where I, and many Catholic high school students, chose to attend next semester. In the United States, there are 221 Catholic colleges and universities where over 720,000 students attend. This University possesses the same welcoming and encouraging spirit that I experienced at Little Flower.
These two halls of learning feel like a second home to many of the students. Parents are the first teachers and school is where we learn to branch out and further develop our own ideals and beliefs. Small Catholic institutions have had a highly significant influence over millions of children, teenagers and blossoming young adults.
Local parishes, though largely ignored by the media, heavily impact the lives of most Catholics. For example, my local Philadelphia parish, St. Cecilia’s, conducts the usual clothing and canned-goods drives, a Christmas and spring collections for six charities. During Christmas, the Giving Tree goes up with paper ornaments with the name of each one of the six charities that benefit from the collection and the items the charities collect. Bethesda House, Our Lady’s House,St.Francis Inn and Woman of Hope collect clothing for all age groups, including children’s toys and necessities for raising infants and toiletries. After all the items are pulled together at the end of the drive, each charity has a grand collection of necessities. St. Cecilia’s Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O), a nationwide organization, spring collection gathers funds to run the school’s sports programs, dances, food for Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity trips. Meals on Wheels is the largest national organization dealing with Senior nutrition programs. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that builds affordable housing for low income families. I hope to work with my fellow University students as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
There are many other charities that extend throughout the world which the Catholic Church manages and/or supports. Covenant House, founded in 1972, is the largest privately funded agency that concentrates on getting homeless youths off the streets and hopefully, to a better life. In the United States, about two million youths are homeless each year; 5,000 of whom perish let alone those who suffer. The staffers search for and find youths wandering the streets. No questions are asked. They’re quickly taken in and cared for.
Advocating for the voiceless from local to international levels, Covenant House is a member of the Non-Government Organization (NGO) Board of Directors of UNICEF. They also play a prominent role in the Campaign for the U.S Ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). By giving rescued youths immediate care and a voice to speak out for them, Covenant House helps an untold number of youths to find themselves and become an asset to society instead of a hindrance.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is a huge but little appreciated charity that started out serving survivors of World War II in Europe. Today, it reaches out to over 100 million people in over 100 countries in five continents, serving the impoverished and disadvantaged overseas. In 2011, more than 94% of CRS’ funds went directly to programs to assist the poor. Following Catholic Social Teaching, CRS serves those in need regardless of race, religion, and ethnicity to promote the sacredness and dignity of human life.
In terms of American health care, the Church is extensively involved. There are over 600 Catholic hospitals inAmerica, approximately 12% of all hospitals. One out of five patients is treated in a Catholic facility. There are 15.4 million Catholic hospital emergency room visits each year. In addition to providing health care, these hospitals employ 602,000 full time workers!
The Trinitarians and St. Joseph’s Indian School are two representatives of the Church’s smaller charities. The Trinitarians, a religious community founded in 1198 by St. John Baptist of the Conception, helps the poor who are oppressed. St. Joseph’s Indian school provides education to Native American children who otherwise would be without education. One student said, “Had it not been for St. Joseph’s Indian school, I’d still be homeless, being shuffled between family members.
Catholic Relief Services manage over 280 HIV/AIDs projects with a budget of $170 million. Statistically, homosexual males make up the majority of those who carry AIDS.
It is the largest organization that treats homosexuals and others who carry AIDS.
A group of perceived radical feminists are some of the most loved and respected members of the Church. Some of these rioting nuns are part of the Nuns on the Bus nine state tour whose goal is to help those who are suffering at the hands of the recession. The nuns are doing their duty to help their fellow man.
The charities mentioned in this article are just a few of the numerous charitable organizations that are connected to the Catholic Church. Of course, where there is light there is shadow. Certain recent incidents and beliefs of the Catholic Church have gained negative media attention. The priest sex scandal is a long and sordid road that has an uncountable number of articles and recordings that slander the entirety of the Catholic Church because of the corrupt priests. Slandering Catholics is becoming of the few socially acceptable prejudices today.
The claim that the Catholic Church’s handling of money is another delectable feast for the media. With many articles and scandals against the Vatican Bank a recent article, published by The New York Times, criticizes the Bank’s lack of controlling “suspicious activity.” While the media besmirches the Bank, they fail to see the charitable contributions which come from donations and church earnings, to various charities that receive funds directly from the Bank.
One major source source of the majority of the media slander is The New York Times, a paper staffed primarily by those who strongly support female and gay rights and would understandably have prejudices against the Church.
In conclusion, the Catholic Church is being dragged through the mud by the media ignoring the immensity of the good that it does. I often ask myself why this is so.
Contrary to popular assumptions, the Church extends it’s helping hand to all including non-Catholics. From schools to parishes to charities to even the Vatican, the Catholic Church provides faith, hope and charity to millions of lives each day.
I, Margaret P. DeFelice, am very proud and happy to be a Catholic.