The Year of Mercy was just the beginning

by Chad Prososki | Catholic Charities


“As there are still many North Dakotans in need, we continue our charitable work today.” – Chad Prososki

By now you may recognize Catholic Charities North Dakota from our videos during Catholic Charities Sunday the last weekend in September. Many remember us under our former names of Catholic Family Services and the Catholic Welfare Bureau. You may also know us through family or friends who have experienced the joys of adoption, found hope through counseling, received flood aid, or have intellectual disabilities and we are their guardian. Yet many still wonder what we do and why.

“Guided by our values, Catholic Charities North Dakota serves people in need and advocates for the common good of all.” This mission is based on the social teachings of the Church, such as the dignity of each person. The Catholic Welfare Bureau began in Fargo in 1923 by Monsignor Vincent Ryan during the time of Bishop James O’Reilly and then Bishop (later Cardinal) Aloysius Muench, to serve the needs of vulnerable populations in North Dakota such as the poor, dependent children, and unwed mothers.

The Church’s social teachings can be traced back through the Prophets of the Old Testament such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, and are rooted in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus in Matthew 5-7. This is a great passage to reflect on, with the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule. While Lent reminded us of the importance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, almsgiving is meant to be not just financial (yes, we and other charities rely on your generous support!) but also to take place on a very personal level. The Sermon on the Mount deeply challenges each of us to be more charitable to others and loving in our own lives.

Since early in Catholic Charities North Dakota’s history, we have helped place children for adoption, and we remain best known for our two adoption programs: Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption Services (PPAS) and the Adults Adopting Special Kids (AASK) program. In addition to parenting and infant adoptions, we help find forever families for children in the North Dakota foster care system who have had trauma and are not able to be reunited with their families or other close family or friends for an identified adoption. We have also incorporated social workers from an early time for other programs as needed under the leadership of Monsignor Anthony Peschel and others over the years.

Along with PPAS and AASK, current programs at Catholic Charities North Dakota include counseling services, guardianships for adults with intellectual disabilities, and natural disaster relief. Our clinical therapists counsel individuals, couples, and families on relationship issues, stress, anger management, and anxiety or depression. Clients may receive a few or many sessions, as needed. Professional staff who serve as court-appointed guardians for adults with intellectual disabilities ensure an appropriate place to live, proper medical attention, and the necessary support services to meet their needs.

As there are still many North Dakotans in need, we continue our charitable work today. Pope Benedict XVI discussed the three-fold responsibility of the Church to (1) proclaim the word of God, (2) celebrate the sacraments, and (3) exercise the ministry of charity in Deus Caritas Est (25).

After the Year of Mercy, let us remember that the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are at the heart of our Christian duty both in our personal lives and as a community. Jesus challenges us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Are we truly living out our charity in the world, being living signs of love for all to see, or have we lost our flavor, good only as salt for the road? Are we a light to others, or has our light faded or been hidden? May the Year of Mercy be only the beginning, so that we may always grow in charity and love for one another!

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 or (701) 235-4457.