"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened ..."
Founded in 1945, New Hampshire Catholic Charities has grown from a staff of three to a team of a thousand dedicated professionals, working in facilities all across the state. From it's modest beginnings, Catholic Charities has become the largest non-profit social-service agency in New Hampshire.
Bishop Matthew F. Brady
"Our overall aim is that no dependent or neglected child be deprived of its heritage of happy childhood; that the aged and infirmed find security and happiness after the struggles of a long life ..."
Bishop Matthew F. Brady - April 7th, 1947
New Hampshire Catholic Charities was founded by Bishop Matthew F. Brady in 1945 and incorporated March 7, 1946. Monsignor James R. McGreal was appointed the agency's first Diocesan Director by Bishop Brady.
Shortly after being appointed the Bishop of Manchester, Bishop Brady invited Monsignor John O' Grady, the secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, to do a survey of existing social services in New Hampshire and to recommend services which were lacking or badly needed. The report, compiled after an extensive study across several months, shaped the sphere of activities for the newly-founded New Hampshire Catholic Charities. The study pointed Catholic Charities' primary focus towards assisting children and the elderly.
Adoption & Child Care Services
At that time, orphanages were common. One of the first tasks for New Hampshire Catholic Charities was to coordinate and assume financial management of the six orphanages that were managed by religious communities in New Hampshire. In assessing the needs of the orphans, it became apparent that additional services were needed.
This led to the development of programs designed for working with families to prevent unnecessary placement of children in the orphanages, including the Adoption Services program. Social workers were hired to act as caseworkers for the children. Foster homes and adoptive homes were a relatively new idea at the time, and New Hampshire Catholic Charities was instrumental in placing truly orphaned children in these settings. This came about from an emerging belief that it was in the best interest of children to be raised in a family, not in an institutional setting.
In 1968, the last orphanage closed. The remaining ten children who had not been placed in adoptive or foster families were transferred to St. Charles Children's Home in Rochester, NH. Founded in 1913 as an orphanage, today St. Charles is operated by New Hampshire Catholic Charities as a residential home for 25 children. The majority of the children who live at St. Charles have been temporarily removed from their homes by the courts, due to family or personal problems. Most of these children are reunited with their families, some are placed through adoption.
In 1996, St. Charles Children's Home began its running program to help the children cope with the stress and anger which often accompanies placement and separation issues. Since then, every year, on Labor Day, the St. Charles Children's Home 5K Road Race is held at Pease International Tradeport.
As of 2012, more than 2000 children have been placed in loving homes thanks to the adoption services program. Today, the agency continues to place infants, facilitate private and International adoptions, and provide post-adoptive services to birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted persons.
Health & Senior Care Services
In 1946, there were five small homes for the elderly under Catholic custodianship in Manchester, serving a total of 89 persons. Responding to the O'Grady studies' recommendations, New Hampshire Catholic Charities made plans to construct its first two nursing homes. St. Teresa's Manor in Manchester and the St. Francis Home of Laconia were officially opened in 1948. Two additional nursing homes were opened under McGreal's administration; the St. Ann facility in Dover in 1958 and Berlin's St. Vincent de Paul in 1963.
Catholic Charities' fifth and largest nursing home, Mt. Carmel Nursing Home, was opened in Manchester in 1969. The facility has the capability to care for 120 sick or elderly individuals.
As the needs and numbers of healthy, older adults increased, a new range of services developed, New Hampshire Catholic Charities began its Elderly Service program in 1978. The staff provided case management, information and referral, counseling, and support groups for older adults and their families.
In 1988, New Hampshire Catholic Charities built new nursing homes at the St. Teresa and St. Francis locations to replace the original facilities. The old homes were renovated into 25-unit apartment buildings, the Bishop Bradley and Bishop Primeau Apartments, which provide quality, independent, retirement living to their residents.
1990 saw New Hampshire Catholic Charities assume ownership of an existing nursing home in Jaffrey. This nursing home was renovated and expanded in 1994 and named Good Shepherd Nursing Home.
St. Ann Rehabilitation & Nursing Center
In 1998, New Hampshire Catholic Charities built a new nursing home at St. Ann in Dover to replace the existing original home. The old nursing home was then renovated to create the Bishop Gendron Apartments. These apartments provide service-enhanced independent living for seniors.
In 2007, with a greater focus on rehabilitation and short-term patient care, the healthcare centers owned by New Hampshire Catholic Charities officially changed their names to reflect their current services. Each center was renamed Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The three apartment buildings; the Bishop Bradley, Bishop Gendron, and Bishop Primeau facilities were also renamed to Senior Living Communities.
In the early 1960's, New Hampshire Catholic Charities' social service department grew not only through meeting the needs of orphaned children, but by offering individual, marital, and family counseling. Currently, New Hampshire Catholic Charities provides statewide counseling services to anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or ability to pay.
Msgr. John E. Molan
In 1963,McGreal was succeeded by Monsignor John E. Molan, whose tenure as the director marked a period of expansion for the social service programs, as well as continued growth in services for the elderly.
In an effort to provide counseling on a more consistent basis, the first regional office opened in Littleton in 1971, followed by a second in Keene in 1972.
Social services continued to expand and, in 1973, Consultation Services for Clergy and Religious was established. This specialized office provides psychological and counseling services to clergy and religious, as well as educational programs for religious leaders.
Monsignor John P. Quinn became the third Director of New Hampshire Catholic Charities in 1977. Under Quinn's leadership, Parish Social Ministry, the third major phase of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, was developed. Beginning in 1977 at the new Lebanon district office was designed to decentralize some of Catholic Charities' services by providing direct assistance at the local level through the training of volunteers.
Msgr. John P. Quinn
At the same time, special services for the deaf were beginning to take shape. These services have been expanded to all persons with disabilities. The Disabilities Office has received national awards and recognition for its leadership in helping the disabled.
In 1979, district offices opened in Nashua and Concord, followed by offices in Portsmouth (now Rochester) and Berlin in 1980 and then in Salem and Laconia in 1981. As with other such district offices, counseling, information and referral, and community outreach services are offered to the local population.
In 1982, the OUR PLACE program was created in Manchester. OUR PLACE assists pregnant and parenting teens and young adults from the stages of pregnancy through early childhood years. Project Rachel was initiated in 1986 to provide specialized counseling for those who have experienced emotional pain as a result of abortion. Social service staff has assisted other agencies in forming their own Project Rachel programs.
In 1987, all counseling and outreach staff who serve the greater Manchester area moved to the Carpenter Center to form the Manchester District Office - the last of ten regional offices to be established.
Immigration & Refugee Services
With the end of the Vietnam War, New Hampshire Catholic Charities formally began helping refugees requesting resettlement in New Hampshire in 1979. The agency assisted with sponsorship and initial resettlement of refugees, by providing them with orientation and case management services. An extensive program was developed for resettling unaccompanied refugee minors. When the number of refugees declined, New Hampshire Catholic Charities expanded its services to include immigration counseling, help with family reunification, citizenship classes and test center services.
In 1992 New Hampshire Catholic Charities opened the office of Immigration & Refugee Services.
Their work today includes:
- Adjustment of Staus
- Consular Assistance
- Religious Visas
- Political Asylum
- Assisting with Petitions for Relative Visas
- Temporary Protected Status
- Application for Naturalization
- Violence Against Women Consultations and Assistance (VAWA)
The New Hampshire Food Bank
On World Food Day in 1984, the New Hampshire Food Bank proudly opened its doors, serving as the only food warehouse distribution center in the state.
By 2007, it had become evident that the Food Bank had outgrown its facility on 62 West Brook Street in Manchester. In 2009, plans were underway to move to a larger, more capable building; and in 2010, the New Hampshire Food Bank had transitioned into its current home on 700 East Industrial Park Drive.
One of the larger developments in the operation of the Food Bank is their current approach to ending hunger at its root causes. Utilizing programs which help educate low-income families and its member agencies, starting a Mobile Food Pantry, and expanding Operation Frontline (now Cooking Matters), a program of Share Our Strength.
In 2012, the Food Bank distributed nearly 8.4 million pounds of donated and surplus food to more than 415 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers and senior citizen homes. These member agencies in turn provide food to the nearly 130,000 hungry men, women, and children throughout New Hampshire.