"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Shining a Spotlight on Catholic Charities Counseling Services

The statistics are scary. With 43.8 million adults in the U.S. living with mental illness each year, and 100 Americans committing suicide each day, the need for mental health awareness, support, and resources is stronger than ever. 

In honor of National Counseling Month this April, we recognize the dedicated Catholic Charities counselors who offer counseling services to individuals, families, and married couples experiencing emotional and spiritual life situations. Our clients receive services on a sliding scale based on household annual gross income. And, true to the Gospel, no one is turned away due to inability to pay.

Eviction isn't just a condition of poverty; it's a cause of it.

A powerful article in The Washington Post explores this concept for families-like many living right here in our service area-who are just a few steps away from entering an endless cycle of homelessness and poverty.

The article begins, "First, the kitchen sink stopped up. And when that happened, Doreen's family began washing dishes in the bathtub. Then food scraps clogged the tub, too, which meant that everyone had to bathe with water boiled in the kitchen that they flushed down the toilet. Then the toilet quit working, too."

Join us Wednesday, June 1 at The Altoona Grand Hotel as we mark a milestone-75 years of serving neighbors in need. We'll also recognize those in our community who are devoted to helping and serving others. These individuals, selected from nominations received across the eight counties of the Diocese, will be presented with the Monsignor William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award and the Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award.

Click here for full details.

In observance of this year's Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by Pope Francis, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has asked all local Catholics to focus on the message of Jesus in Matthew 25:35-40, which ends "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me."

During each week of Lent, the Diocese encourages us to observe various aspects of this powerful message. This week, the week of February 21, we're asked to Shelter the Homeless/Welcome the Stranger.

You can fulfill your observance during this week of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by supporting Catholic Charities' homeless shelter, the Martha & Mary House, located in Johnstown. Opened nearly one year ago, the Martha & Mary House provides support, safety, and hope to homeless individuals and families in the form of shelter, planning, and caring case managers. The shelter accommodates up to 15 individuals for up to 30 days, giving them time to secure financial stability and more permanent housing.

Click here to answer Jesus' call to shelter the homeless by supporting the Martha & Mary House.

Homelessness doesn't just impact adults. In fact, a growing number of students in our region have no place to call home. 

According to Maureen Bourke, the Region 6 site coordinator for student homelessness through the PA Department of Education, in the 11-county region she serves (Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Indiana, Jefferson, and Potter counties), the homeless student population has steadily increased.

“It varies from year to year as far as districts, but there has been a steady increase at least for the past four to five years that we’ve been able to solidify the data and look at the actual numbers,” Bourke said in an interview with The Courier Express.

The article states that the number of homeless students attending public school in Pennsylvania increased by 18 percent between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years — an increase more than double the national average of 8 percent, according to statistics reported by the U.S. Department of Education.

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