The History of Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi formally known as Catholic Social Services was established on September 2, 1965 by His Excellency, Most Reverend Thomas J. Drury, D.D., L.L. D. under the direction of Monsignor William C. Kinlough; programs were developed to serve the poor without duplicating services offered in the community. 

  • Father Thomas P. McGettrick, Father Aidan Leddy, and Father Pascual Bergin, having their master degrees in Counseling and Guidance, stressed the importance of implementing a Counseling Program that will help people resolve and handle areas of concerns.
  • The Don Bosco Day Care facility was opened in the Lulac Village.
  • Emergency Relief assistance with groceries, limited help with utilities, rent, and travel was provided to clients.
  • Unwed Mothers Program was developed; the local Catholic Charities cooperated with other licensed adoption agencies in particular Charities office in the Galveston/Houston Diocese.
  • A summer camp for boys was implemented.
  • After Hurricane Beulah struck Corpus Christi, a policy was established to help those still in need after government agencies had done their part.
  • The John G. & Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation began supporting the distribution of food throughout Catholic Charities service areas. The distribution continued through the Christmas Season. Since 1967 the Foundation continues to provide Christmas Food Baskets through Catholic Charities.
  • Father Charles McNaboe was appointed Director; and soon after an office was opened at the Wilson Tower Building in Corpus Christi. Several programs were initiated to serve the poor of our Diocese: Head Start, Adoptions, Scholarships, Emergency Relief, and Homemaking Classes; and to help meet the needs of Laredo's poor, efforts were made to establish a Multi-Service Center.
  • A monthly stipend was granted to Pax Christi Residence by Catholic Charities to feed and clothe little girls who were being cared for by Mother Santoyo and her Sisters. This was a temporary placement in order to remove them from abusive home situations.
  • A Catholic Charities group under the direction of Father Robert Freeman responded to the area-wide tragedy of Hurricane Celia by mobilizing resources and coming to the aid of thousands of families left destitute.
  • Father Robert Freeman was named Director of Catholic Charities.
  • A two-ton radio equipment truck was purchased for use with the Saint Vincent De Paul Particulas Council, to be kept prepared for emergencies at all times.
  • Two sisters from the Maryknoll Order initiated a summer program for children 3-12 years old from low-income areas. The program was planned for five weeks and provided care for about 400 children.
  • Catholic Charities under the direction of Father Freeman began work on establishing a Saint Vincent de Paul Society in every parish throughout the Diocese. This will provide assistance to those in need.
  • With the help from Catholic Charities the Pax Christi Residence was awarded a license as a Residential Child-Care Facility and expansion was planned.
  • With the support of Father Freeman and Catholic Charities the Dominican Sisters initiated a program to visit the elderly in nursing homes and a program for the patients to assist at Mass. Their services extended to helping the Chaplain at Memorial Medical Center, visit the Catholic patients and distribute the Holy Eucharist.
  • The Sisters of Mount Thabor Convent initiated the New Life Program at Catholic Charities. They provided home visits which lightened the burdens of many families in the Mathis area, including Taft, Sinton, Odem, and Edroy. Working with the San Patricio Migrant Health Clinic in Mathis; the Sisters were involved in bringing awareness to seasonal worker's and their families about services such as general medical care, prenatal/postnatal care, and dental care.
  • A small portable building located at 818 Antelope Street in Corpus Christi became the official home of Catholic Charities.
  • Laredo Family Counseling Services (LFCS) was established under the sponsorship of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
  • Alcohol counseling was one of the most effective programs; a partnership was created with the Texas Commission on Alcoholism and the South Texas Development Council.
  • The "Birthright" project was created to assist unmarried mothers-to-be.
  • Under the direction of Brother Tom Coyne and Brother Woodrow Duke a Halfway House for Juveniles was established.
  • Representing Catholic Charities, Sister Aquinas began social work at Saint Vincent de Paul store providing and receiving referrals.
  • Sisters of Mount Thabor Convent in Calallen expanded the emergency aid program at Catholic Charities to include families from Mathis, Edroy, Odem, Taft, and Sinton.
  • Funding from the Campaign for Human Development was secured to open the Odem Sewing Center. Several sewing machines were purchased to make clothes for the needy children in the area.
  • In 1973 Catholic Charities under the direction of Father Robert E. Freeman organized the Gulf Coast Disaster Relief in Texas. Working closely with the Red Cross he volunteered the services of the Diocesan two-ton truck as far as Louisiana. Father Freeman as Diocesan Director for Catholic Relief Services coordinated the aid from Corpus Christi to the victims of the earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. In September, Catholic Charities worked to aid those left homeless by the recent earthquake in Mexico.
  • A program similar to the one in San Patricio Migrant programs was created in Alice, Texas.
  • Catholic Charities re-activated the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in Kingsville and coordinated its assistance for those in need with the County Welfare Department.
  • Bishop Thomas J. Drury blessed the Laredo Counseling Center located at 402 Corpus Christi Street, Laredo, Texas.
  • A registered nurse joined Catholic Charities to instruct the Billings Ovulation Method of Family Planning. With the intent of carrying the program Diocesan wide.
  • Catholic Charities coordinated the special collection for the African drought relief in August and September and provided assistance to victims of Hurricane Fifi that hit Honduras. The funds were forwarded to Catholic Relief Services.
  • Sister Esperanza Manas, through the Catholic Charities office, started a Consumer Education Program to help and advise families on how to manage money better and spend wisely.
  • Vietnamese resettlement efforts were undertaken under the direction of the United States Catholic Conference Migration and Refugee Services.
  • Father Robert E. Freeman, Diocesan Disaster Relief Director, and Director of Catholic Charities named Sister Manas administrator of the program for Catholic Charities.
  • Sponsors were sought for the relocation of refugees to provide jobs, housing, financial assistance, and food for the refugee families.
  • By the end of July, 1975 church personnel in Texas had resettled more than 1,300 refugees. Social Action Service in the Guadalupe Hacienda Housing Project in Alice, Texas was developed.
  • Bishop Thomas J. Drury appointed staff to implement a program to reach Senior Citizens. Workshops were scheduled to reach all four Deaneries of the Diocese through Catholic Charities.
  • In February of 1976 Guatemala was struck by an earthquake. Catholic Relief Services air chartered $70,000.00 of critical medical supplies and $10,000.00 was allocated to purchase supplies on the spot. The local Catholic Charities Relief Services and the local agencies were accepting cash donations to aid the victims.
  • Catholic Charities continues to distribute the Operation "Rice Bowl" kits to all parishes. 25% of the amount raised was allocated to assist local area poverty needs from the Catholic Relief Services Overseas Aid Appeal.
  • Sister Patrick Bruen joined Catholic Charities Counseling Program and the Pregnancy Counseling Program.
  • Mr. Dan Meaney offered the use of this home at 1201 Lantana. The house later was turned over to Bishop Drury. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity moved in and Sister Patrick was assigned to the project.
  • Sister Therese Blanchette joined Catholic Charities and assumed the duties of the Emergency Aid and Refugee Settlement Programs.
  • The Birthright Program became independent of Catholic Charities. Sister Therese and Sister Patrick initiated a program through Catholic Charities to visit and distribute the Holy Eucharist in Nursing Homes.
  • HEB Stores began supporting the Christmas Food Baskets.
  • A Community Relations Seminar was held for Refugee Resettlement agencies from Louisiana and Texas as a means of easing the way between Indochinese refugees and the local population. Catholic Charities participated.
  • Bishop Drury received the Deed to the property of 1201 Lantana, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Father Freeman re-initiated monthly meetings with 26 "helping" agencies to acquaint all local and county agencies with services available and avoid duplication. The Emergency Aid Coalition was formed.
  • Hurricane Allen struck Corpus Christi; Catholic Charities came to the aid of victims. Twelve Sisters volunteered to assist the Red Cross in the Centers. The Sisters of Mount Thabor Convent assisted in the outlying areas.
  • The Cuban Refugee Settlement Program was initiated with the supervision of Sister Theresa. The United States Catholic Conference provided funding for the program.
  • Catholic Charities received a grant from the Department of Human Resources to teach English to the Indochinese refugees of the area. A survival level was attained so that the refugee student could speak limited English.
  • Sister Patrick and Sister Therese established English as a Second Language Program in Rockport and Corpus Christi.
  • Due to tense situations in the coast, Indochinese refugees in the Rockport area ceased. At the request of Governor Clement, Sister Patrick and Sister Therese continued working with the English as a Second Language Program and those refugees became eligible for naturalization.
  • The Cuban Special Placement Program was initiated in February 1981 through October 1981. 41 single, male Cubans participated and financial assistance was provided. Expenses were reimbursed through the United States Catholic Conference. The Cambodians were housed at the dorm facilities of Corpus Christi Academy. The Cuban Refugee program was phased out.
  • Texas Department of Human Resources for English as a Second Language was renewed. Seventy-five Cambodians had been resettled.
  • A ten week course in Driver's Education was offered through a grant from the United States Catholic Conference.
  • Catholic Charities was approached by the United States Catholic Conference to assist with the resettlement of Polish refugees. Volunteers assisted with the program. Special evening classes for the Polish were arranged with Del Mar College.
  • A grant of $11,000.00 from Nueces Community Action Agency was received solely for food for the needy. L.L. Harris Wholesale Grocery Company offered a room for storage and weekly supplies were brought to Catholic Charities pantry at 1201 Leopard Street.
  • Catholic Charities was one of the 49 organizations to receive "free" food from the Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Inc. Catholic Charities distributed government surplus cheese and butter. The Sisters of Mount Thabor distributed to the rural areas as well.
  • Catholic Charities began the distribution of daily sack lunches to transients (homeless) and those out of work. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society volunteers distributed on weekends. Lunches were prepared ahead by volunteers. Food donations were used.
  • The sack lunch program phased out in April due to the opening of the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen.
  • Catholic Charities of the Corpus Christi Diocese extended Projecto Ayuda services throughout the Coastal Bend area. The program provided jobs for low-income elderly with non-profit organizations on a basis of a 20 hour week. Twenty-eight slots were available in the Corpus Christi area.
  • Catholic Charities received $13,000.00 from the Nueces County Community Block Grant to assist the unemployed and economically disadvantaged. Food was distributed in Driscoll, Bishop, Agua Dulce, and Banquete, as well as, in the City of Corpus Christi.
  • Recommendations were made to move Catholic Charities offices from 1202 Leopard Street to a new location since we were in one of the proposed areas for the New City Hall building.
  • Under new Administration, Catholic Charities temporarily moved its facilities; Father Freeman continued as Director of Catholic Charities. As we continue to grow, offices were established in Alice, San Patricio County, Mathis, and Bee County. Catholic Charities employed 64 people to develop and implement programs throughout the communities.
  • The administration of Catholic Social Services in 1986 pursued and established a program offering Counseling Services; beginning in August 1986, with the hiring of a License Counselor the Counseling Department was open to provide a broad range of services, which included domestic violence, juvenile, and alcohol problems.
  • Priorities were established by Catholic Charities administrative staff and the Board of Directors. The primary focus of the agency was to work with State, County, City, and private agencies so that the services would not be duplicated and assistance can be better delivered to residents of Corpus Christi and surrounding rural areas.
  • Catholic Social Services organized its priorities: to provide emergency food, clothing, and shelter to the poor and provided referrals to other agencies.
  • Another area of concern arose; resulting in making home visits to see the actual needs of the family's homes (broken windows, leaky roofs, heating problems, no furniture, etc.).
  • With a grant from the Kenedy Memorial Foundation, Catholic Charities Vineyard Program in Beeville was able to purchase land and a building for offices.
  • Catholic Social Services moved offices from 1650 South Brownlee to the Monastery building on 1322 Comanche Street.
  • The Catholic Social Services of Laredo Adoption Program under the supervision of Catholic Charities had a significant increase in the number of child placements, available children, and perspective adoptive families.
  • Our offices in Laredo, Texas raised funds and purchased a skin grafting machine; it was donated to Durango Hospital.
  • Catholic Social Services became certified as a Qualified Designated Entity for the Immigration Legalization Amnesty Program; we expanded the Counseling program from part time to a full time counseling program; we assumed the responsibilities for the operation of the Saint Vincent de Paul Store on Laredo Street; we established an annual donation drive for Saint Vincent de Paul.
  • Bishop Rene H. Gracida selected the name "Casa San Lucas" and placed it under the administration of Catholic Charities; Casa San Lucas was to serve as a nursing home for Diocesan Priests. It was dedicated on September 29, 1987.
  • Under the leadership of Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Freeman, director of Catholic Social Services; Vicar General Episcopal Vicar for Social Communications and Services the Office of Justice and Peace came under the Vicariate of Social Communications and Service to educate people regarding voter registration and later assist the census project to improve communications between the City Services Department and citizens.
  • Catholic Charities opened the Hundredfold Store on Ayers Street. A retail store offering non-essential items for sale, proceeds from the Hundredfold store were used to cover overhead at the Laredo Street facility.
  • The Turnaround Program for Boys was designed after the New Life for Girls Program and began to meet on alternate weekends.
  • The Counseling Program moved to our larger facility located at 1650 South Brownlee Street. The program expanded to meet current society needs, as well as, religious, clergy, deacons and lay personnel of the diocese.
  • Catholic Charities began Job Referral Services to assist amnestied aliens and others having difficulties finding employment.
  • Immigration Projects Legalization Statewide Outreach Program began to reach undocumented aliens and guide them in order to achieve permanent residence.
  • In coordination with Catholic Charities the Chronically Ill and Disabled Children Services offered in conjunction with the State Department of Human Services to provide services at various hospitals throughout the State of Texas. These initiatives began in July of 1991.
  • Once again, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi saw a community need. In October 1, 2002 we became an Approved Housing Counseling Agency with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A Housing Counseling Department was established to provide education and counseling to homeowners. The following services are provided: Pre-occupancy Counseling; Homebuyer Education and Learning Programs (HELP); Post-purchase/Mortgage Default and Rent Delinquency Counseling; Post-purchase/Post-occupancy Counseling; Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling; Displacement and Relocation Counseling; Assistance and Education to Colonia Residents; Budget and Money Management; Credit Counseling, and Marketing and Outreach.
  • Seeing an increase in the homeless population Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, under the administration of Sister Patrick Bruen and with the support of Most Reverend Edmond Carmody, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, and the Board of Directors, Mother Teresa Shelter opened in September 16, 2003. The facility serves as a day time homeless shelter providing supportive services. The shelter gives access to laundry facilities, showers, snacks, use of the telephone and internet, job opportunities, one-on-one counseling, temporary and permanent shelter referrals and access to other community resources.
  • The Diocesan Office for Persons with a Disability was transferred to Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi in 2004. This program provides area wide educational, spiritual, and recreational programs for the hearing impaired, the deaf, the vision impaired, the blind, the mentally challenged, and those with other disabilities.
  • After taking a closer look at the various needs of the community we serve, we discovered that in order to best serve our clients we needed to develop a program that not only addressed the immediate needs of low and moderate income families but one that will educate and empower the family. With this in mind, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi developed and implemented as a component and part to the HUD Approved Housing Counseling, the Family Self-Sufficiency Program with the sole purpose of fostering independence, self-determination, and self-reliance; with in turn it all translate to Self-Sufficiency.

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