Catholic Charities breaks ground on new home

By Megan Erbacher

Catholic Charities Executive Director Sharon Burns said on June 3 that for the first time in its 83 years of operation, the nonprofit will soon have a new, permanent space of its own.

That day was a “landmark event” in the history of Catholic Charities, said Board of Advisors President Mike Vogel, as more than 50 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new home for the organization.

Preparing to turn the first shovels of dirt on the site of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville’s future home are Dan Ritter, left, Catholic Charities Building Committee chairperson; Mike Vogel, President of the Catholic Charities Board of Advisors; Catholic Charities Executive Director Sharon Burns; Bishop Joseph M. Siegel; Charline and Mike Buente of Buente-Buente Architects PC; Dan Jones of Danco Construction, Inc.; and Diocesan Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Tim McGuire.

Vogel thanked everyone for attending the ceremony at the future location of Catholic Charities, 600 Herndon Drive, at the corner of Stringtown Road and Herndon Drive. The 9,800-squarefoot building will have 20 offices and three large meeting spaces, as well as an outdoor garden honoring St. Theresa.

The new location for Catholic Charities is on the property of the former St. Theresa Parish.

Vogel said everyone gathered at the site with “gratitude, prayers and anticipation in our hearts.” It’s important to remember, the land represents faithful parishioners of St. Theresa who made it “much more than a parcel of land.”

“They made it their home of faith and learning,” Vogel added. “We are grateful to them for the careful stewardship of this property over the years and appreciate the grief they endured in order that Catholic Charities might grow. We certainly hope and pray that the love, faith, hopes and dreams that grew on this land before will once again blossom — this time to help vulnerable individuals and families create lives that work.”

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel blessed the land and sprinkled it with holy water, asking for the safety of the workers and guidance for the care of those who face life’s challenges each day.

To help with the ceremonial groundbreaking, Vogel asked Bishop Siegel; Tim McGuire, diocesan chancellor and chief operating officer; Dan Ritter, Catholic Charities building committee chairperson; Burns; Dan Jones, Danco Construction, Inc. president; and Charline and Mike Buente of BuenteBuente Architects PC to join him as they turned dirt with golden shovels.

It’s not necessarily about the new physical building, Burns said, but rather about the “lifegiving care that will take place inside.” A new home for the Catholic Charities of Evansville offers the opportunity to serve more people in different ways, she said.

“First, it is located in the community — visible and not hidden,” Burns said. “Second, it will enable us — because of our classroom and meeting space — to convene collaborators for designing, developing and delivering programs and services for our neighbors. Third, the space will allow us to more effectively and efficiently continue our current services. Most importantly, the building will offer a warm, inviting space for caring where the human dignity of all is the priority as we live out our Catholic baptismal call to serve.”

Burns and Vogel thanked many people for their leadership, guidance and generosity to make the new building a reality, including Bishop Siegel, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and McGuire, as well as donors who gave financial gifts to the Stewards of God’s Grace Capital Campaign.

Since 2015, Catholic Charities has been located at 610 E. Walnut Street. In its 83-year existence, Burns said Catholic Charities has always rented office space.

The goal is to move into the new building in spring 2020.

Each year, Catholic Charities helps more than 5,000 people create lives that work. Burns said her staff is “wonderful, professional, compassionate and competent.

"They advance hope, one-to-one, to our clients needing counseling, immigration services, financial assistance and life and job training education,” she said. “We are in the business of helping each person we touch create a life that works for their family.”