What’s the Path to the Pearly Gates?

What’s the Path to the Pearly Gates?

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By Gregory Kepferle
CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation


 

A group of generous supporters of Catholic Charities called the Caritas Society gathers in a friend’s home to learn more about the good work being done on their behalf and to encourage other friends to join their efforts. The friendly chitchat quiets as Bishop McGrath speaks. “You know when you get to the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter is not going to ask how many times you went to Mass or did you keep all of the Ten Commandments. Instead he will ask, ‘Did you feed the hungry? Did you shelter the homeless? Did you visit the sick and imprisoned? Did you welcome the stranger away from home? Did you care for the least of these?’ ” The Bishop adds mischievously, “Now don’t tell your pastor I said you don’t need to go to church! Of course we need to keep the Commandments. But the greatest commandment is this – to love God with all your heart, all your might and all your soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christ calls us to help first our neighbors most in need, those who are poor or in any way suffering. And one way we as a Church care for them is by supporting the work of Catholic Charities – feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and welcoming the stranger. The Bishop reminds us that we can’t do everything, but what we can do, let’s do very well.

Our pastors are asking for more help addressing the challenges many parishioners are facing: homelessness and the lack of affordable housing, immigration concerns, the needs of seniors, and the need for more emergency assistance for families struggling to make ends meet. Catholic Charities is committed to responding to these needs by developing a Good Samaritan Fund that can respond flexibly to needs not addressed by government funding and by creating a Safety Net Impact strategy to alleviate the conditions of chronic poverty for people without homes, isolated seniors, families suffering from hunger, people with mental illness and physical disabilities, and others requiring an urgent response to help them through a crisis.

Catholic Charities continues to provide a “hand up” to help people through education and job placement. But given the urgent housing crisis, we need to partner more with parishes, community groups and others to address growing homelessness and the high cost of housing. By offering a new House Sharing platform, Catholic Charities is able to match people who need a roommate to help pay the rent or a mortgage with those who need an affordable place to stay while they work to make ends meet. While not the complete solution to affordable housing, it helps people stay in their own homes with a source of income, while enabling others struggling with the high cost of rent to have a stable place to live. This is just one simple way we can help our brothers and sisters in need.

For more information on the Caritas Society, on House Sharing, and how you can help our neighbors in need go to www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.