Remarkably, the Catholic Diocese of Natchez was established in 1837 and more than 180 years later it is still serving the needs of Mississippians with comfort and care through its expanding range of programs and services. Today, Catholic Charities serves the 65 counties of the Diocese of Jackson that is headquartered in the Capital City.
From its very early years, the Catholic Church in Mississippi sought to serve the disadvantaged and those unable to care for themselves. In the mid 1850s, the Diocese established two orphanages in Natchez to serve homeless children, St. Mary’s Orphanage Asylum for Girls and D’Evereaux Hall for Boys. These two orphanages continued serving Mississippi children of all faiths from the middle of the 19th century until the early 1960s, when the national trend moved away from placing orphaned children in traditional institutions and toward placing them with foster families who could better provide a nurturing family environment.
When the two orphanages closed their doors, Catholic Charities’ mission to serve homeless children continued and was expanded to include maternity care for unwed mothers, as well as adoption services. Soon its focus grew to include emergency assistance and marriage and family counseling. Today, the agency’s wide array of services includes therapeutic foster care for emotionally disturbed children, as well as providing alcohol and substance abuse services for pregnant and parenting women with young children, domestic violence and rape crisis services, children’s mental health and crisis intervention programs, individual and family counseling, supportive services for veterans, immigration and refugee services, health and wellness services, and disaster preparedness and response services. In addition to the headquarters building in Jackson, Catholic Charities also has branch offices in Natchez, Vardaman, and Clarksdale.
The Bishop of Jackson, The Most Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz put the work of Catholic Charities in a more relatable context in his message to Mississippians in the spring edition of the Diocese’ newsletter.
At Catholic Charities, in season and out of season, we strive to be a visible sign of Christ’s love providing the hope that leads to lasting change for the better in the vulnerable populations that we serve.
Those we serve live in every corner of the State of Mississippi. This includes our homeless veterans, victims of domestic violence and rape, those who are addicted to drugs, those families and children who are partnered in Foster Care, and those who realize a dream through adoption.
In the lean years following the 2007 downturn, Catholic Charities was there when the government wasn’t. We don’t have endless paperwork for families to fill out. We don’t have lines for our families to stand in. Catholic Charities of Jackson is the safety net for many in our counties and our State. When families fall through the government safety net Catholic Charities is there to provide. We are grants for abused women. We are a food pantry for women and children who are hungry. We are a paycheck for dads who lose a job. We are clothing for the needy after a tornado or hurricane. We are comfort for those in prison. We are comfort to a scared young girl who has found out she is pregnant.
In the words of Catholic Charities’ mission statement, the purpose of this service and outreach is…“To be a visible sign of Christ’s love by helping the vulnerable and those in need, especially children, women and families, by advocating for a more just and compassionate social order, and by empowering people to help themselves.”
Catholic Charities, Inc. depends on donations from people like you to sustain the many services it offers people in need. Anyone interested in contributing can make donations by mail or online. For more about how you can support Catholic Charities with your gifts, visit www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org or call 601-355-8634.