Celebrating 75 years of service
For 75 years, Catholic Charities has provided assistance to and created hope for families in New Mexico to live with dignity and become self-sufficient.
We are thankful to our donors, sponsors, supporters, collaborators and hundreds of volunteers that over the years made a difference in the lives of the individuals and families we serve. Our impact on the community would not be as great without your kindness and generosity.
Join us in celebrating 75 years of changing lives and our gratitude for Catholic Charities’ faithful supporters, who embrace our mission to serve as a sign of God’s love and compassion in the community.
Stories of Hope
Dignity Bags for the people in need
Last Friday was a Good Friday for Catholic Charities with the support of Bosque School students and families.
Over 20 full Dignity Bags were dropped off at our In-Kind Donation Center. Many of the Dignity Bags included kind cards of support and hope.
What is a Dignity Bag? It is a gallon size bag that contains needed hygiene items to support community members living in crisis.
Looks like we are going to need more!
Thank you to Bosque School and their wonderful Service Learning Program that teaches ABQ youth the importance of serving our community.
Food boxes for the community
The Mobile Food Pantry has turned into a drive-through operation for the time being to keep people safe while maintaining access to fresh food. Many thanks to Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico and St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church for their partnership in providing this monthly service.
Masks to keep us safe
A huge THANK YOU to Joan in Stitches - sewing coach for providing our Children's Learning Center with beautiful handmade face masks!! Joan and the Merry Mask Makers of Albuquerque, New Mexico are hard at work making masks for the community, and will likely save lives with their hard work!! Thank you all!!
you are part of our history
Tell us how Catholic Charities impacted your life.
Whether you are a staff, volunteer, donor or you or your family was supported by Catholic Charities, we want to know about it as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary. Stories may be used for publicity purposes through this website, email blasts and social media. If you wish you remain anonymous or do not want your story shared publicly, please indicate in your message.
The National Conference is founded.Nearly 400 people gathered at the Catholic University of America to found the National Conference of Catholic Charities (NCCC), “to bring about a sense of solidarity” among those working in charitable ministries, and “to be an attorney for the poor.”
Source - Catholic Charities USA
On January 3, 1946 – the first office of Catholic Charities opens in Santa Fe. The staff consisted of the Director and one social worker. The agency was involved in collaborative work with local Catholic orphanages and clinics. The main source of income for the first 10 years was the “Dollar-A-Month Club.” In the first year 200 families were served (425 adults and 900 children)
On July 17th, 1950, the first office of Catholic Charities in Albuquerque opened temporary quarters in the rectory of the Immaculate Conception Church at 615 West Copper. A pamphlet was printed asking “What do the Catholic Charities of Albuquerque Propose to do?” Some possible answers were: to establish a headquarters, develop facilities for child welfare, open a Thrift Shop, to provide a homeless shelter, a food bank, or a “wood yard” where indigent men could earn money by chopping wood. However, it was finally decided that the new office would engage in case work for Family Welfare, Child Welfare, and Guidance for Unwed Mothers.
The Trapp Family Singers performed a benefit concert for Catholic Charities of Santa Fe. If you have ever seen the movie “the Sound of Music,” you know that this was a real family that escaped from Nazi occupied Austria during World War II. The family came to the Unites States as refugees and had to spend some time waiting on Ellis Island before they could be admitted to this country. Perhaps their stories and songs had an influence on the agency’s later entry into refugee resettlement work.
The Baby Boom had hit! More attention than ever before was placed on services for infants and children. Catholic Charities of Albuquerque became the first non-governmental agency in the state to be licensed for foster care placement and adoption services. Counseling, planning and care for unwed mothers was part of the overall program. Five years later, the second agency in the state to be licensed for such work was Catholic Charities of Santa Fe.
Catholic Charities of Albuquerque began to receive monetary assistance from the United Fund, which was the predecessor to the United Way. Catholic Charities of Santa Fe became a beneficiary of the United Fund in 1957 and immediately hired an additional Social Worker. By 1958, the annual budget in Santa Fe had jumped up to a whopping $20,380 per year! They put out an advertisement for yet another Social Worker. The pay for this full-time position was proudly posted as $3,900 per year, plus benefits.
C.F. Lucero was appointed to lead Catholic Charities in Santa Fe. He was a leader for this agency for 28 years. He placed more than 200 infants for adoption, working closely with unwed parents. He oversaw family counseling services, working toward keeping many families together, and collaborated with other Catholic organizations to help those in need. In this photo, C.F. Lucero and Sister Ann from St. Vincent Home for Girls were assisting a little orphan girl who was assumed to be mentally challenged, until testing revealed that she was hard of hearing.
Santa Fe had become the location of choice for unwed mothers to have their babies. Young pregnant women would arrive by bus and ask for directions to Catholic Charities because they knew they would find kindness and help there. In contrast, Albuquerque and Espanola were viewed as hotbeds of black-market baby activity. From 1962 to 1964 Catholic Charities of Santa Fe tripled its Child Services programs.
Catholic Charities office in Albuquerque initiated the Family Reunification Program for Immigrants. The United States had seen a large influx of immigrants from Cuba due to the tightening of controls in that country by Fidel Castro. Many Cuban parents feared that their children would be sent off to work camps in the Soviet Union. This caused Operation Peter Pan (or Pedro Pan) in which children were airlifted to the United States and dispersed throughout our country via Catholic Charities. In 1977 we had a name change. Both the Albuquerque office and the Santa Fe office were now known as Catholic Social Services, Inc.
There were five types of services being offered to the public at the Albuquerque office: Counseling, Elderly Services, Immigration, Refugee Resettlement, and SupportLine, which was a community referral service. Anyone could call the SupportLine and get information and advice on where to find help. Sometimes the help could be provided by Catholic Social Services, and sometimes by other non-profit organizations. This collaborative type of work has been a hallmark of our agency, from its inception to the present.
We change the name back to Catholic Charities to conform with the identity of Catholic Charities USA. That year also brought about a shift in the focus of service between our offices. Albuquerque began to get more involved with services for children with the opening of the Early Head Start Program. Meanwhile, the adoption services in Santa Fe were slowing down due to changes in society. Many unwed mothers were making the decision to keep their babies, so the number of adoptable children dwindled over a period of years. The adoption services in Santa Fe which had been so important in the early years of that office, finally ceased operation in 2005.
Expansion to Sandoval county of La Luz program, a transitional housing program that supports single parents through rental assistance and case management. The program achieved some impressive outcomes and served 46 families and 132 individuals in the first year. 96% of individuals transitioned to stable housing.
On August 4, 2015 Archbishop John C. Wester and Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan donned hard hats and golden shovels to break ground for Catholic Charities’ new Casa de Corazon. On July 22, 2017 building blessings and community open house took place in the new 3 story building located in the South Valley in Albuquerque. The first floor has the Children's Learning Center, second floor Adult Education classes and third floor offices for the 80 employees and administration.
Focusing on affordable housing, Catholic Charities began construction of the first approved affordable housing project in 2017, targeting seniors and grandparents raising grandchildren. It includes 54 apartments of different sizes (twenty four 1-bedroom, twenty-four 2 bedroom and six 3-bedroom) units; 45 of them will serve households earning 30%, 50%, and 60% of the Area Median Income. Nine of the units will be market rate units. Eleven will be covered by a Section 8 Project-Based Voucher contract committed by the City of Albuquerque Housing Authority. Generations at West Mesa opened for families to move in 2020.
From February until June 2019, our community came together to help more than 500 families (1,100 men, women and children) seeking asylum in the United States as part of an immigration crisis at the Mexican border. Catholic Charities and other 4 organizations in Albuquerque led this effort as part of our mission to Honor Human Dignity.
New logo and 75th anniversary logo
In celebration of our 75 years, we changed our logo to include our vision and location. We also created a 75th anniversary logo.
Throughout the year, we plan to share 75 stories of our donors, sponsors, supporters, collaborators, clients, employees and volunteers that have assisted Catholic Charities to serve the community in New Mexico. Share your story with us!