“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

God opens doors to life — and to everyone. He sends his Son, the Eternal Word who becomes incarnate in Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the whole world and as the only one through whom the world can be saved. This profound message of hope is worth contemplating every day of our lives, but especially now when so many doors are shutting life out, and right here in our state.

Life’s most tender moments are fraying at both ends of existence. Legal protection for the most vulnerable human lives, once thought to be the hallmark of a civilized society, is systematically being purged. New York State law now denies any value to human lives targeted for abortion, and legislation is underway to deny protection to other lives that, through age or illness, become more costly to maintain. And many lives along the way are at risk as well.

Our mission as God’s people is to open the doors of life to everyone on life’s journey, especially the most vulnerable — physically, emotionally and spiritually. For Jesus is here with us to save the whole human person, every human being, regardless of whatever diminishing status society, culture or the state might afford our most defenseless and marginalized.

Through its many partner organizations, such as Catholic Charities and the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, the Catholic faith family serves those who might so easily be ignored or left out. Here are a few examples.

At a recent press conference to announce an Emergency Energy Assistance Grant from National Grid, hosted at our Pastoral Center, one person spoke of how Catholic Charities helped his family at a time he could neither expect nor plan for. He woke up on Dec. 26, 2017, partially paralyzed, for he had suffered a massive stroke. Still unable to do much on his left side — doctors had said he would never be out of a wheelchair — he can now walk a bit, move his left arm and talk again.

He spoke of how Catholic Charities helps families in times of dire need, focusing on the “non-judgmental” relationship he felt from the start, with no one asking “where we are or how we got there,” but just wanting to help. “It wasn’t about what faith I was; we had a need, and they helped me. They met us where we were.” As Catholics, we do not help people because of who THEY are but because of who WE are.

Because of our commission from Jesus himself (cf. Matthew 28:16-20) and our mission in the world, we often collaborate with community, corporate and state agencies, both public and private. One woman with addiction issues was referred to Catholic Charities for court-ordered volunteer service. Catholic Charities saw something in her and asked her to answer phones. Her role made her familiar with Catholic Charities programs, so when she needed help with her electric bill, she knew to ask Catholic Charities. From there she went into recovery, got a job, found an apartment and today is fully self-sufficient. Accompanying many others like her, Catholic Charities programs have helped people learn to parent better, one program focusing on foster care prevention that is done at home, another on fathers in Columbia and Green counties.

Catholic Charities' Community Maternity Services directly helps young mothers who would otherwise have nowhere to go and might even be led to an abortion. So many lives are saved through a conversation and just the time taken to walk together with a mother-to-be who might have no other human support in facing daunting decisions that will affect her life and the lives of others (518-482-8836). There are no wrong doors at Catholic Charities!

Gianna Center of Albany offers a unique, exciting approach to women’s health and wellness, providing general and specialized gynecologic care and serving women with a deep commitment to honoring their dignity and the sanctity of human life (518-779-5225). Project Rachel also works with a restorative approach, accompanying those who may have been involved with abortion in a non-judgmental and completely confidential way (518-312-3825).

No matter which door you knock on, there will always be a person to answer and to connect you to whatever support or service you or your loved one may need. One person may walk into a Catholic Charities agency for food and end up being connected, for example, to their local Catholic Charities program that offers guidance in financial skills and placement in other assistance programs that help people get on their feet. Sometimes assistance is as simple as providing someone with a pair of steel-tipped boots so they can take the next step forward and accept a job that might otherwise not be available. Simple things like shoes and help with an electric bill or a ride to work might make all the difference on the road to a more stable home life.
Bottom line: all Catholic-affiliated organizations are judgment-free zones. Everyone is welcomed and accepted, regardless of where they are or how they got there. Ask anyone who knows this from experience — and you will meet many along your own journey.

We have no way of knowing how it may affect a person, just to be treated with dignity when they did not expect it. This is all central to our respect life ministry. Our care and support goes beyond the protection of human lives in the womb and embraces with love the mother who carries the child and all family members and care-givers who may need help and support in other ways, such as job placement or in overcoming addiction, even homelessness itself. Jesus is everyone’s Savior — and so our mission as his Church is to make his saving presence known and felt in all the world, beginning with our neighbor. 

The reach of this presence extends even further when so many good people help their neighbors in need. In our Diocese, you can help by contributing to Catholic Charities’ Emergency Assistance Fund with an online gift at www.ccrcda.org.

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