Who We Are & Our History
Catholic Charities is a family and children’s human services agency under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Since its inception in 1920 as the Diocesan Bureau of Social Services, Catholic Charities has responded to the ever-changing needs of children, teens, adults, and families without regard to race, religion, or economic circumstances. We are affiliated with Catholic Charities USA, the largest private network of social service organizations in the United States. We are an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and a 501(c)(3) corporation.
Over Ninety Years of Caring and Compassion
The Diocese of Hartford has a long history of charitable institutions and works. During the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of Catholic hospitals and homes for children and the elderly were founded. Although funded almost entirely by the Catholic Church, these institutions were open to all people in need regardless of religion.
The Diocesan Bureau of Social Services was incorporated in 1920 to coordinate and give direction to the efforts of all the Catholic charities throughout Connecticut. The Bureau also evaluated social conditions affecting our population and developed new services to meet these emerging needs. The Diocesan Bureau’s emphasis was always on child and family welfare, and its name was later changed to Catholic Family Services to better reflect that focus.
From its beginning, the Diocesan Bureau relied on the support of the Knights of Columbus and the Council of Catholic Women. In 1920, Bishop John J. Nilan and a group of concerned clergy in New Haven sought to remedy the social problems afflicting that city. They purchased their first facility, the Catholic Community House through funding received from the Knights of Columbus, and it was staffed by volunteers from the Council of Catholic Women. Both of these organizations continue to provide support to our agency today.
Reverend Matthew J. Judge, the first Director of the Diocesan Bureau, recognized the complexities of serving the indigent and he engaged trained social workers to administer the agency’s programs. His vision was to combine the inherent resolve of the Church’s charities with public non-sectarian agencies in reaching out to those in need. At that time, the population of the United States was rapidly growing due to the influx of immigrants, mostly Catholic émigrés from Europe. Faced with societal ills of the 1920’s such as starvation, homelessness, lack of medical care, and dysfunctional families, the Bureau set the standard of “social caring” and quickly gained the respect of the community and the trust of those they served.
Catholic Charities Today
The Great Depression and World War II, a time of increasing needs throughout America, presented new challenges to the agency. Catholic Family Services rapidly expanded its services and programs to Hartford, Waterbury, Meriden, Torrington, New Britain, Milford and Ansonia. We continued to grow and we now administer more than forty-eight programs from thirty-four locations. Today the Archdiocese of Hartford encompasses the Connecticut counties we serve: Hartford, Litchfield, and New Haven.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford began as an unincorporated umbrella agency. In 1983, Catholic Charities and Catholic Family Services were united under one Board of Trustees and reincorporated as the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities/ Catholic Family Services, Inc. In 2004, the agency formally adopted its new name of Catholic Charities, Inc. – Archdiocese of Hartford.
Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges
As we begin the twenty-first century, our agency has retained its roots of helping those who most need our services. We continue to develop into a dynamic organization committed to meeting the needs of a broad range of cultures, assisting more than twenty-one thousand families annually. Under the guidance of an outstanding professional staff, our agency offers scores of varied Local Programs and services to meet the needs of every age group from infants in post-natal care to our senior citizens.
Each year, new program initiatives are undertaken to meet the unique needs of every community we serve. Programs ranging from mental health services to gang violence reduction are among the many that are offered. We focus on children as our future, families as the backbone of our society, and the elderly as our link to our roots.