95 years serving our neighbors

by Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities ND


Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities ND

Recently we honored the Presentation Sisters with our 2018 Caritas Award in the Fargo Diocese, and in May we will honor the Carmelite Sisters in the Bismarck Diocese for their outstanding service and love for humanity. The purpose of the Caritas Award is to recognize individuals or organizations who have, by example and deed, served persons in need and advocated for justice and convened other persons of good will to do the same in a manner consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. The Presentation Sisters have done this by helping the aging at Riverview Retirement Community in Fargo, and the Carmelite Sisters do this by helping the hungry and poor through their service at Spirit of Life Church in Mandan.

The Presentation Sisters have served in North Dakota for over 135 years, while the Carmelite Sisters have only been in Mandan for three years—although they have also worked at the parishes and school in Fort Yates, N.D. for five years. Through prayer, service, and teaching, all of these sisters have truly loved their neighbors. In a way, they also signify the past, the present, and the future, as we trust and hope that they and the other religious orders, such as our local Benedictine and Franciscan sisters and brothers, will be around to help the people of North Dakota for many years to come!

At these luncheons for the sisters, I witness the great love our communities have for them, which helps me reflect on the past and future of Catholic Charities North Dakota. This year marks our 95th anniversary. It began as the Catholic Family Bureau, a group formed in 1923 by Monsignor Vincent Ryan to help the poor, dependent children, and unwed mothers. Years later the organization’s name became Catholic Family Service, which many people still know it as, before changing to Catholic Charities North Dakota.

Since that humble start Catholics and their local parish priest at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fargo, we have grown to serve the entire state of North Dakota. The first employee was hired in 1926. Now we have over 50 full and part-time employees. That first director was paid $50 a month. How far would that same $50 go today? Just as in 95 years the needs of the poor and vulnerable we serve have grown, so too has the financial cost to help them. Thus we invite each of you to donate throughout the year as partners in our work to serve those in need and advocate for the common good of all.

This fall we plan to commemorate our 95 years of serving and loving our neighbors here in North Dakota. We hope you will celebrate with us, and let us know how Catholic Charities has made a difference in your life or those of someone close to you. We would love to gather stories of Catholic Charities North Dakota “Helping People, Changing lives.” To do that, we need you, our friends and readers, to share your own stories with us of how we as Catholic Charities, as Catholic Family Service, or even as the Catholic Welfare Bureau, helped our brothers and sisters in need.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Catholic Charities North Dakota, we commissioned a study from our 75th anniversary in 1998 titled, A History of Catholic Family Service: Social Ministry in North Dakota. Copies of this book can be viewed at each of our local offices, along with additional resources. If you have had a connection with Catholic Charities North Dakota, please let us know as we would like to invite current and former supporters, clients, staff, and board members to join us! More information will follow this summer about plans for celebrating our 95th anniversary.

Chad Prososki is the Director of Development and Community Relations for Catholic Charities North Dakota. For more than 90 years, Catholic Charities North Dakota and its supporters have been putting their faith in action helping people, changing lives. You can reach Chad at info@catholiccharitiesnd.org or (701) 235-4457.