Sunday, 17 May 2020 15:26

Catholic Charities: A shining example of the church’s mission to help others, especially during a pandemic

Written by Laura Wolfe

Emma* came to Catholic Charities eight-and-a-half months pregnant and with her 2-year-old daughter, desperate for help with food, diapers, rent, and utilities. The coronavirus closed her husband’s work, and he could no longer provide financially for his family.

A friend intervened and helped them, but another month passed, and it seemed there was no hope in sight — until she found Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities helped Emma’s family with rent, utility assistance, and provided her family with food and diapers for the new arrival. Catholic Charities will follow up after the baby is born to make sure all necessary care is provided.

“As Illinois’ ‘stay-at-home’ order extends through May, we are seeing not only a rise in people who are hurting financially, but people who are stressed, overwhelmed and scared,” said Steven Roach, executive director for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “Catholic Charities will continue to remain open and provide vital but basic needs like food, medication, help with rent and utilities, support for those who are experiencing mental health issues related to the coronavirus, and more. We will do so while complying with state, local and federal guidelines, and while treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve regardless of the circumstances we face. We press on because of our faith and because people need us more now than ever before.”

In addition to continuing regular services, Catholic Charities recently introduced the COPE Line to help people deal with stress related to isolation, finances, loss of work, or any other problems they may be experiencing because of the coronavirus.

“We want people who are overwhelmed with their circumstances to call the COPE Line and talk through the issues they are facing. We want people to know they aren’t alone in this,” Roach said.

The COPE Line is free and open to the public. Anyone wanting to utilize the service can call (217) 321-8343 to schedule an appointment with one of Catholic Charities certified mental health professionals.

“We know we have hard days ahead, and people who have never had to ask for help may find themselves at Catholic Charities’ doors. Please pray for courage and safety for those people, and for our staff and volunteers,” said Roach.

(*Name has been changed to protect privacy of client.)

Laura Wolfe is development director for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.