The heart of Allentown grew a little bigger on Dec. 9 as the new offices of Catholic Charities opened at 402 W. Chew St. in the city’s downtown area.
Accompanied by Catholic Charities staff and members of the Diocese, Bishop Alfred Schlert toured the offices and blessed them, offering prayers both for the employees and for those who will share in the fruit of their labor.
Afterward, the Bishop was joined by Frank Ford, President of St. Luke’s University Health Network, Sacred Heart; and Rob Nicolella, Executive Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown, for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that would officially inaugurate the offices.
As the ceremony commenced, Catholic Charities staff and assorted well-wishers clustered in front of the building while rush-hour traffic inched past. On the opposite side of the street shone the brightly lit signs of St. Luke’s Hospital, while catty-corner from the crowd, the distinctive pine-green steps of Allentown Central Catholic High School could be seen in the waning daylight.
“What a great area for all kinds of nourishment and healing of body, mind, and spirit, all concentrated with a Catholic presence here in the heart of Allentown,” Bishop Schlert told the gathering.
“I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to be a part of what is already a very Catholic center.”
Directly across from the St. Luke’s Hospital emergency entrance and situated in the hospital-owned Seton Hall building, the Catholic Charities offices are positioned in an area that is well served by the agency.
The Bishop praised the staff of Catholic Charities for their “day in and day out work of bringing the compassion of Christ and the love of the Church to so many, no matter where they are in life, who they are in life, what their religion is in life. Or if they have no religion in life. We’re here to serve them. And our staff serves them so well.”
The Bishop also thanked Ford for “personally taking an interest in our relocation here.”
Noting that the day’s ribbon-cutting was taking place on Ford’s 70th birthday, the Bishop drew hearty laughter with his bemused observation that “most people just go out to eat for their birthday.”
Ford himself shared his vision for the newly housed Catholic Charities: “If you have faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. This is our mustard seed. And we’re going to do some good work.”
“We are all in this together,” added Nicolella. He called the relocation “a remarkable accomplishment” that came about because “everyone had an oar” to paddle toward a common goal.
The move to Seton Hall is something of a homecoming for Catholic Charities, which, as the Catholic Social Agency, occupied the building in 1961, soon after the Diocese was founded. The most recent location was 900 S. Woodward St., Allentown.
Bishop Schlert noted that Catholic Charities has “moved over the years from place to place in the city of Allentown…. But here we are back again, in probably the most auspicious and efficient location that we could possibly have. And that’s all because of God’s providence and the work of so many good people over the years.”
Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Bishop blessed the office and visited with staff. Afterward, invited guests toured the offices.
About Catholic Charities
One of the largest human services organizations in the region, Catholic Charities provides vital services for thousands of individuals and families each year throughout Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.
Catholic Charities helps those who are hungry, those battling mental health issues, veterans at risk of homelessness, families seeking refuge from the devastation of floods and other disasters, and adults and children in need of assistance, safety, and compassion.
The agency operates soup kitchens in Allentown and Pottsville, a community center in Allentown, and multiple food pantries. It helps everyone in the community; 75% of Catholic Charities clients are non-Catholic.
Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Allentown was founded in 1941 under the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and incorporated in 1961 as Catholic Social Agency when the Diocese of Allentown was founded.
The agency’s name was officially changed to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown, in 2005 to more clearly reflect the work that is done on behalf of those who are poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged.
Visit the Catholic Charities website at www.catholiccharitiesad.org.