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Bishop Carroll had been Vicar General in Toronto between 1933 and 1935. He had direct experience of Catholic social services in Toronto and once in Calgary recognized the need. Due to the scarcity of clergy he could do nothing until in 1945 he sent Fr. Pat O’Byrne to St. Louis University to study social services. On March 21, 1956 O’Byrne was appointed part-time executive secretary of the newly-established Diocesan Charities. This later became Catholic Charities. In the sixties its duties were to advise and co-ordinate the charitable work of the Catholic Women's League of Canada, Knights of Columbus etc., to relate Diocesan welfare work to that of the civic provincial and federal governments, and to community fund agencies etc., to counsel and advise individuals and families on relationships, refer cases to professionals. It had a board of directors who were lay Catholics. Offices were opened in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Blairmore, and Claresholm. Thrift Stores were opened, for example, at Sacred Heart Parish, and connections were fostered ecumenically and with branches of government.
In 1961 Fr. John Kirley was sent to the University of Ottawa to train in social work. In 1964 he was appointed assistant executive secretary, and later director of the Catholic Family Services.
Klein renamed Catholic Charities the Diocesan Council of Social Agencies but in was reestablished as Catholic Charities in 1990 following Diocesan conflict with the United Way. Catholic Charities’ new mandate included collecting and distributing funds to agencies and organizations which upheld Catholic values.
“In 1996, Catholic Charities began accepting contributions made through the Donor Choice program of the United Way” (Inter-Office Memo from Fran Oleniuk to Bishop Henry, October 28, 1998, Subject: “United Way, Catholic Family Services & Catholic Charities Partnership). In 1997, Bishop O’Byrne “encouraged” Catholic Charities to “discuss” the possibility of “a joint project” with Catholic Family Services and the United Way (ibid.). After discussions with the United Way concerning the problem of prostitution among adolescents in the city, Catholic Charities and Catholic Family Services chose not to partner with the United Way and instead “decided upon” FAST (Families and Schools Together), an “early intervention program for children” established by Catholic Family Services (ibid.). In 1998, discussions with the United Way resumed “with the support of Bishop Henry” (ibid.).
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Created May 27, 2021