Members of the Board of Directors and/or Advisors to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio took their installation oath at the group’s annual meeting Feb. 5 at the Plaza Club, pledging to reach out and strengthen with love, respect, and dignity the most vulnerable in the 19 counties of the archdiocese.
In 2018, Catholic Charities, Guadalupe Community Center, Seton Home, St. PJ’s Children’s Home, and San Antonio Birth Doulas served more than 254,000 people in over 40 programs. “Together, we are truly transforming lives and changing futures every day at Catholic Charities,” said J. Antonio Fernández, president/CEO of Catholic Charities, to about 125 attendees at the luncheon. “I look forward to working together toward a brighter future for those whom we serve.”
In September 2017, Pope Francis stated, concerning the life and work of charity in Catholic life, that “Charity is at the heart of the church, it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission.”
Previously, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate: “Charity is the main path of the church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and commitment outlined by this doctrine is attuned to charity which, according to Jesus’ teaching, is the synthesis of all the law.”
In his welcome to the Board of Catholic Charities of San Antonio, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, said the group serves anyone and everyone who needs help.
“We make no distinction between Christians or non-Christians, poor, healthy or unhealthy, citizen or migrant,” he said. “If you are a human being, and you are in need, we will help you, just as Christ would.”
The archbishop described Catholic Charities as reflecting the soul of the church’s mission in the world; the living representation of the hands of Christ, himself, alive and at work in the world today. “Our commitment to everyone and anyone can sometimes be source of controversy. You must know this, and not be surprised by it,” he stressed. “We do not ask if someone ‘deserves,’ or does not ‘deserve’ our help. We make no distinctions about politics, and we are not the government. We are the church. We will perform the mission of the church as Christ has commended it to us.”
Catholic Charities is the largest private provider of human assistance in San Antonio, second only to the Bexar County government, itself. It often works in partnership with other aid organizations, and Catholic Charities is often the lead organization because of its size and reach.
“We are happy to collaborate with government programs, but we are not a branch of the government and we do not feel constricted by the priorities of government institutions,” emphasized the San Antonio prelate. “For us, every person is a child of God. Period.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit expressed his delight in the unique talents, skills, and experience new members are bringing to this enterprise.
“I know that great things are about to happen! I know that charity, the soul of the church, is in good hands with you!” he added, in praising listeners. “Catholic Charities works best when we share our talents, skills, and various perspectives with one another. Spirited conversations make for better policies and better decisions, so I want you be forthright and direct in sharing what you think! This is not the place to be timid, but the place to be the most bold about bringing the works of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the where the rubber meets the road in human life.”
Lastly, Archbishop Gustavo prayed that the Lord would bless, strengthen, and keep the new Board members in his loving care as they embark upon the work of the Gospel and Christ’s Church. “I look forward to a very fruitful relationship with you all!”