"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics around the world will fast as a symbolic start to the holy season. But fasting is about much more than reflection, repentance, and forgoing food. It is a reminder that there are people around the world--and right here in our community--who are forced to fast today and every day due to poverty, injustice, and homelessness.

Face of HomelessnessOn the surface, Annie* seemed to have it all: two young sons and a long-time husband. But underneath, Annie was an abused woman. When she finally got the courage to separate from her emotionally-abusive husband, she found herself alone with her two young special-needs boys and no place to turn.

Due to the behavioral needs of the children, placement in another shelter setting was not successful. Thanks to community support of our homeless program, Catholic Charities was able to assist Annie and her sons with shelter, links with agencies to get back into safe housing, and continued support during the first few months.

A recent state survey revealed a staggering figure: more than 23,000 Pennsylvania households entered the winter months with no heat -- a number that has been steadily on the rise in the last decade. Every year, Catholic Charities provides emergency financial assistance, including emergency heating assistance, to households in need in our community. Thanks to continued generous donations from individuals, families, and businesses, we are able to continue our mission to love and serve our neighbors as ourselves.

For families living in poverty, winter can be an especially difficult time.  One in three households in our eight-county Diocesan area is struggling to afford basic human necessities including:

  • Heat 
  • Shelter
  • Utilities like electricity, water, natural gas 
  • Lifesaving medications

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown embraces the responsibility of supporting these individuals and families. A new giving society, the Guild of Guardians, was recently developed to make a bigger impact on Catholic Charities’ efforts to fight poverty on a local level.

Is your New Year's resolution to read more in 2015? You can fulfill your promise while supporting Catholic Charities by purchasing a mystery novel by our very own Bishop Joseph V. Adamec.

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