Creating Lives that Work

By Sharon Burns

Director of Catholic Charities

Special to The Message

75th Anniversary Reflection

Want to surprise folks with your knowledge of the diocese? Offer the correct year of the founding of Catholic Charities in Evansville. You may be surprised to learn that Catholic Charities started serving the poor and vulnerable in Evansville in 1937- it's seven years older than the Diocese of Evansville itself! Traditionally, Charities’ efforts focused on adoption and foster care for children, and emergency financial relief for the poor. Over the years, programs and services have changed with community needs.

Today, Catholic Charities helps the residents of southwestern Indiana create lives that work! Catholic Social Teaching emphasizes the dignity of all human beings, the common (community) good, the importance of the needs of the poor and the dignity of work. Catholic Charities roots its programs and services, in both content and the delivery, in these teachings.

Individuals and families function best when their individual members enjoy good mental health. Outpatient individual, marriage and family therapy services help clients address the stresses caused by depression, anxiety and dysfunctional behaviors. Because many of these issues are rooted in trauma – mostly experienced as children – the counseling staff have received specialist training in providing trauma therapy.

Families and communities are better off when individuals are able to participate in market work to provide safety and stability for their families. Although our job-training and life-skills education programs help less than 50 individuals each year, each program participant makes great strides toward economic stability – impacting their lives and the community for generations to come. Several have received high school diplomas; others have reunited with spouses and children; and still, others have found life-sustaining work that includes health insurance coverage.

Jesus welcomed all and stood up for the most vulnerable. Our faith supports immigration for our international brothers and sisters who are at great risk of personal harm and economic hardship in their home countries. Catholic Charities offers low-cost immigration legal services for immigrants among us who meet eligibility requirements. Possessing appropriate documentation, work and residence status allows our new neighbors to work and live in safety and security.

The work of the Catholic Charities’ 14 paid staff members is guided by a 15-member volunteer Catholic Charities Board of Advisors. Board members advise the director on operational issues and policies to ensure sustainability in the future. Our highly qualified staff members help clients directly and always in a spirit of hope and dignity.

Rooted in our baptismal call to serve, and with the faithful support of our parishioners, community funders and generous contributors, Catholic Charities helps clients mitigate the mental, emotional and economic stresses of daily life. We offer respect and provide hope to all individuals through our efforts to help those we serve create lives that work.

If you would like to participate in any way – by volunteering, serving on the Board of Advisors or contributing financial support, visit or email director Sharon Burns at [email protected]. You may always call Catholic Charities at 812-423-5456.

Sharon Burns is Director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Evansville.