Stories of Hope: Fostering Peacemakers of Our Time – Isaiah 43

Learn how Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is providing hope and creating help in our community!

A group of adults and kids stand in a circle in the St. David Parish Hall in the Lower 9th Ward. They are instructed to grab the hand of someone they are not standing next to, until their arms end up criss-crossed across the center of the circle. “Now, it’s your job to get untangled without letting go of the  hand you’re holding!” Sr. Salvatrice Murphy, Assistant Program Director of Isaiah 43 Parenting and Mentoring Program,  instructs the group. Laughter and a flurry of discussion erupt as the group attempts to untangle themselves. Eventually, they realize it’s only by working cooperatively and listening to one another that they are able to unravel the circle again. The group gives each other a round of applause after getting untangled.

The group is gathered for a mentoring workshop with Isaiah 43 Parenting and Mentoring Program. These small lessons are at the heart of Isaiah 43 which strives to engage our youth and provide support for parents to foster future peace makers of our time. Each month, volunteer mentors and mentees come together for an evening of fun and fellowship in addition to one-on-one activities and outings between mentor and mentee pairs.  Among this group are mentor Monica Alicino and her mentee partner, Jyra Phillips, 14. Monica and Jyra have been paired together for a year through Isaiah 43.

“My favorite thing about working with Monica is the one-on-one activities,” said Jyra, who is one of ten brothers and sisters. Monica, who came from a family of 11 brothers and sisters, can relate.

“It’s great this program allows us to give attention to one instead of always something in a group,” said Monica. “I have a lot of favorite things about working with Jyra,” Monica said, “I always try to find something we can learn on our various outings.” Some of their favorite outings have included a visit to view the art exhibits at the New Orleans Healing Center and going to the movies.

Isaiah 43 programming is now in about a dozen parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In addition to mentoring, Isaiah 43 also hosts parenting workshops where parents and caregivers of young children can improve their communication skills, learn non-violent discipline techniques and also just find support in one another. In providing these resources and support for both parents and our youth, this program strives to counteract the culture of crime and violence in our city. Since it was launched in 2011, the participation in this program has doubled. Isaiah 43 continues to expand to other parishes and neighborhoods.

“There is a need for a program like this in New Orleans and the Catholic Church wants to be involved in stemming the violence in any way possible,” Monica said. “By having kids be more involved in something other than street life makes a big difference.”

Cornerstone Builders host Symposium for Systemic Change

Cornerstone Builders and staff at the 2013 New Beginnings Ceremony

Symposium for Re-entry and Systemic Change

Join in a discussion with community leaders on how we can work for social justice and systemic change in our criminal justice system. The symposium will feature an initiative for emergency housing, immediate employment and empowerment services to returning citizens, within 72 hours of release from prison. Featured speakers include:

Kenneth Polite, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Louisiana

Whalen Gibbs, LA Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections Assistant Secretary

Susan Lindsey, Assistant to Sheriff Marlin Gusman and Reentry Program Administration

Rhett Covington,  LA Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections Deputy Assistant Director for Reentry

Other presenters include:  Catholic Charities Cornerstone Builders, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Ozanam Inn, Re-entry Partners

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2014, 8:00 am to 1:30 pm

St. Anthony of Padua Church

234 Angus Drive, Luling, LA 70122

For more information or to register contact Emily Heiser at 504-310-6954  or email at

JUSTICE a judicial system of fairness and mercy

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE spiritual healing, reconciliation, and transformation

CIVIC JUSTICE rehabilitation through service

JUSTICE REINVESTMENT advocacy for public dollars to be spent on rehabilitation and job creation for returning citizens.

 “If you want peace, work for justice”- Pope Paul VI

Why? The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  For the many leaving our criminal justice system, homelessness and unemployment are major factors in continuing the cycle of recidivism back into a life of crime, violence and ultimately back into the prison system. Check out this video on Mass Incarceration in the U.S. for some great background info and join us for the discussion on October 3!

Hope Haven Adult Day Healthcare Center Open House 9/18

Join PACE and Catholic Charities friends and staff at an open house celebration on September 18th from 10:30am-6:30pm. Take a tour, meet our staff and learn more about our senior services!  For info, call 504-267-9690.  To enroll today, call 504-835-0006.

Dine Out for Life on September 24!

Join us for ACCESS Night at Ye Olde College Inn on September 24th!

Wednesday, September 24, 4 – 11 p.m.
Ye Olde College Inn, 3000 S. Carrollton Ave.
ACCESS receives 20% of all proceeds on this night!
ACCESS is a pro-life program of Catholic Charities, that provides free comprehensive pregnancy support services including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, case management and material support to nearly 1,000 abortion-vulnerable women each year.
*Reservations accepted, but not necessary.

Providing Help, Creating Hope

The 2014 Catholic Charities Annual Report is here!

Download our FY 2014 Annual Report > | View a list of our FY 2014 Donors >

A message from our President and CEO, Sr. Marjorie Hebert, MSC:

We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.*
Dear Friends of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans,

How are you called? The lyrics above are from one of my favorite hymns. In reflecting on my first full year as President and CEO of Catholic Charities, this song immediately came to mind. Catholic Charities is truly called to be the hope and provide the help for the poor, the vulnerable, the lost and the needy. Every day, the people of Catholic Charities are answering the call to be the hands and heart of Jesus here on earth.

We are truly called to act justly. Whether it is advocating for a victim of domestic violence through Project SAVE or providing access to English as a Second Language classes for immigrants and refugees, we give strength, confidence and a voice to those who are marginalized or unable to speak for themselves. We are indeed called to love tenderly. When a caregiver shares a smile with one of our disabled brothers and sisters of Padua Community Services or when we are able to provide support for our parents and youth through Isaiah 43 Parenting and Mentoring, we enfold those in need in Jesus’ loving embrace.

We are certainly called to humbly serve. In all 108 church parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, at least one (or more!) Catholic Charities program has been present to provide assistance to someone in need. With over 500 employees across our many diverse programs and services, it is our daily mission to continue to evolve our ministries as a source of support for our parishes in meeting the needs of those who are struggling.
Yes, we are truly called by name. And we will continue to answer that call through our love, through our services and through the people we serve. By being a supporter of our work, you already share in our answering the call to service. For many, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is the voice of hope and the hand that gives help. We thank you for your continued support and prayers.

God bless you,
Sr. Marjorie Hebert, M.S.C.

Annual reports are being mailed out to our donors and friends this week. Join our mailing list to get the latest info and news from Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans!


*From We are Called by David Haas


West Bank Catholic Charities Food Distribution Site Moves to First Avenue in Harvey

Harvey, LA – Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans Food For Seniors monthly food box distribution site at Hope Haven on Barataria Blvd. in Marrero has been moved to 1245 1st Avenue in Harvey. Enrolled participants should stick to their usual assigned date for the new location. New registrants and participants with assigned dates August 1 -12 who missed their usual date can pick up a food box any day this August.

Food for Seniors distribution site at 1245 1st Avenue in Harvey will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am – 2pm and Wednesday is 12:00 – 5pm.

This program distributes free supplemental food boxes for qualifying low-income senior citizens Enrollment in Food for Seniors program is always open. New and registered participants with questions can call toll free 1-800-522-3333 for more information and enrollment.

Food For Seniors/Food For Families currently holds food box distributions throughout all 64 civil parishes in Louisiana, with more than 40 sites in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Some of these include senior living facilities, senior day care centers and churches. Food for Seniors/Food for Families is the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). It is an equal opportunity program of the US Department of Agriculture and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in collaboration with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans.

How the immigration crisis hits home with me

Martin Gutierrez, VP of Community Ministries, shares his personal journey to U.S. citizenship in light of the unaccompanied minors crisis. Read the statement from the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops on this issue.

How the immigration crisis hits home with me, Published on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 16:58 in the Clarion Herald Written by Martin Gutierrez, Guest Column

On July 19, 1979 – 35 years ago – Nicaragua started a new chapter in her history.Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans also had to turn the page and started writing the next chapter in their lives. My dad, mom, brother, sister and I were among those tens of thousands. This is a long, complex story, but I will attempt to give just a glimpse of it in light of what is now going on with the thousands of minors who are crossing our border seeking protection.All Nicaraguans suffered the consequences of a civil war in the 1970s. In May/June 1979, we received threats that our home was on the “black list.” My dad served in the Nicaraguan Army, and at that time he was a colonel.After consulting with others, we decided that my mom, brother, sister and I would go spend some time at my aunt’s house located outside of Managua, the capital city where we lived. My dad was not with us. He was fulfilling his duties as an officer in the armed forces.In late June, my aunt and those staying with her, received additional death threats. At that point, my mom and dad decided it was a good idea – I am glad they thought of this – to go on a vacation to visit my cousins in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana.

We were blessed to have tourist visas on hand and the resources at the time to get on a plane and start our “vacation.” We arrived in St. Bernard on July 1, 1979, after spending a couple of days in Miami.

My dad stayed in Nicaragua. He was spending a lot of time in the Nicaraguan southern region. We all assumed we would be back home in a two to three weeks when “things calmed down.”

An extended ‘vacation’
Later in July, my dad had to come to the United States on a work-related trip. He stopped by New Orleans to visit us. He explained that things didn’t look good in Nicaragua, and that our vacation might extend for a little while. Dad told us that he was in the U.S. just for a few days and that he had to go back to Nicaragua.

Sometime around the middle of July, my dad called his boss in Nicaragua and explained to him that he was finished with what he needed to do in the U.S. and was ready to go back. His boss instructed him to stay where he was until further orders. I will always be grateful to his boss for giving those orders.

On July 17, the president of Nicaragua resigned and left the country. The other side in the conflict took over the government on July 19. Going back to Nicaragua for my dad would have resulted in him being killed or, at the very least, being placed in prison.

Who knows what our lives would have been like if we all had to return to Managua?

Very quickly and unexpectedly, one chapter closed and another one opened for my family and most Nicaraguans. Dad ended up going to Miami for one year, and we stayed in St. Bernard. Our tourist visas were valid only for a short time. My parents decided that we would apply for asylum, and this process took a long time.

It is important to know that the only benefit we received when we applied for asylum was authorization to work and my being able to go to public school. Our relatives and new friends provided great support.

Soon my mom (with basically no English) started working at Schwegmann’s supermarket as a bagger. She moved up to cashier and later became cashier supervisor. My dad worked in the maritime industry. He spoke enough English, since he had spent 13 years as a merchant marine officer and had visited the U.S. often.

Grateful for welcoming
So, I went from being a tourist to someone who was exiled to asylee to legal resident and later to American citizen. I will always be grateful to the U.S. government for giving my parents the opportunity to prove their case and gain asylum. I recognize that I entered the country legally. But I also realize that it would have been very easy for us to become illegals (I prefer the term undocumented) if our visa would have expired before we applied for asylum.

The thousands of minors who have crossed our borders and their parents are not leaving Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala on a vacation. Their exodus has been triggered by many forces, including fear for their lives. I pray that our government grants them the opportunity to prove their case in a court of law, as the current laws allow.

The laws offer several possible avenues for these families and minors to seek solutions to their situations. Some of these avenues include asylum, special juvenile immigrant visa, a “U” visa and a “T” Visa. The reality is that many will not qualify and/or will not be able to prove their case and will have to go back.

This is a major crisis in a very complex world. The root causes that push these families to leave their countries and the forces that pull them to come to the U.S. must be dealt with. This will not happen overnight. In the meantime, we have to deal with this situation in a fair, humane and just manner.

Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala all rank in the top 5 in murder rates in the world. Fortunately, Nicaragua is relatively calm now, which is one of the reasons Nicaraguan families are not making the tough decisions that others from the three other countries are making.

I am sure that if my kids’ lives were in danger, I would go to extreme measures to protect them.

Martin O. Gutierrez is vice president of Community Services Ministry for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. He can be reached at

- See more at:

This August, help keep ‘em covered!

The babies and moms we serve through ACCESS Pregnancy and Referral Centers are in desperate need of diapers and wipes! As a National Diaper Bank affiliate, ACCESS receives diaper requests from families throughout the region. We rely on donations to keep their diaper supply stocked.

You can help keep ‘em covered by giving in the online diaper drive!


Follow the link above to go to the ACCESS baby registry to help keep our Diaper Bank stocked! We currently need 80 packs of diapers in various sizes (especially larger sizes 4-6!), 60 packs of wipes, and various other baby items to give to our ACCESS families! The need is constant and we need your help!
ACCESS’ registry number at is 86182949302 or you can enter ACCESS in the first and last name sections under the baby registry.

Or CLICK HERE to make a monetary donation to support ACCESS babies and their families! Select ACCESS in the designation menu!

Donations may also be dropped off at the new Metairie ACCESS location – 921 Aris Ave, 504-832-1503. Thank you for your continued support of our life-affirming ministry and the women and families we serve!

ESL Volunteers Needed for the Fall Semester!

Volunteer to Help Adults Learn English!

Gain teaching experience and have fun helping adult learners practice their English. Dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers are needed now!

  • Volunteer 3-6 hours each week
  • One semester commitment (September through December)
  • Several locations available:

Metairie/Kenner – Uptown – Mid-City

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Reliable transportation required

 Materials and training provided. Volunteers should be able to commit one to three days per weekfrom 6:00-8:30 pm or 9:00-11:30 am.

Call 504-861-6348 or email for more information

ACCESS Mobile Pregnancy Center is on the move!

Check out the new schedule of stops for the ACCESS Mobile Pregnancy Center, July -October 2014!

The ACCESS Mobile Unit will be parked at these locations from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Tuesdays – Food Pantry of New Orleans, 13150 I-10 Service Rd. (Near the Bullard exit), New Orleans East

Wednesdays– Nativity of Our Lord, 3325 Loyola Drive, Kenner

Thursdays – Hope Haven, 1101 Barataria Blvd., Marrero

Call 504-427-1278 for more information or to schedule an appointment.