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Catholic Charities Lives Out the Diocesan Principle of ‘One Family in Faith’

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that charity is one of the three theological virtues, the other two being faith and hope. These virtues are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life.

We have learned much about charity through our clergy and religious women, who choose to be with people in need, quietly heroic with their works of mercy. Throughout our history, they have cared for the sick, protected neglected children, fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless.

As the diocese grew from a scattering of people to larger, organized communities, the requirements of the local Church changed. Bishop Emmet M. Walsh saw the importance of establishing a Catholic agency to help fill that role and, in 1945, founded Catholic Charities of Charleston with the mission of “engaging in works of charity of every description.” Its purpose was to supplement the compassionate work that the faithful were doing within their parishes and on a personal basis.

Catholic Charities quickly gained public recognition for its work to help people and families. One of their primary, pro-life efforts was adoption and “finding permanent homes for children who … were deprived of a home of their own.” Catholic Charities also offered assistance to unwed mothers by providing emotional, medical and spiritual services, along with child guidance and family counseling. It also supported foster home programs.

The regional organization later became Catholic Charities of South Carolina, taking on a name to match its mission of providing care and “Serving God’s family throughout South Carolina.” Over the years, the agency has opened regional offices across the diocese to provide specialized services.

One of the oldest ministries run by Catholic Charities is the Carter-May Home. Founded in 1929 by Msgr. James J. May, his sister Marie May and Mrs. Patrick Carter, the assisted living center is still the first and only Catholic facility of its kind in the state.

Catholic Charities continues to customize its services and expand to fit the needs of the people.

Its current programs include disaster services to provide relief and recovery for those impacted by natural disasters; wellness services such as Our Lady’s Pantry program; Renew prison ministry, which was created to give a fresh start to former inmates; immigration legal services to welcome those new to our country; homeless and outreach services such as Clean of Heart and clothing closets to give dignity to those without a home; and pregnancy and family services offering security for newborns and mothers.

The never-ending desire to live our faith, share our hope and serve with charity is what keeps the ministry growing and constantly adapting to the needs of “One Family in Faith.”

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Juanita Bustamante Escobar is the video ministry producer for the diocese. Email her at