March 9, 2018

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

Living our mission, building community at the heart of who we are

David Bethuram“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.”—St. Teresa of Calcutta

An important discussion that is happening in our society is the effectiveness and the proper role of faith‑based organizations in delivering human services. This discussion has a direct impact on how the public views the work of our organization.

This notion of faith-based organizations assuming “new roles” in community service and leadership is really not new. Organizations like Catholic Charites and our ministry partners like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services and many others have been engaged in providing community service and leadership for centuries.

What is “new” is the way faith-based organizations are being viewed by the larger “political” society, and how our traditional roles are being recognized for their positive impact, influence and results.

The vision that we embrace in Catholic Charities is to be caring, dedicated professionals who appreciate life and its value. Along with the many generous and gifted volunteers in parishes and the wider community, the charitable work and mission of the Church in the archdiocese is made possible. Both staff and volunteers recognize the strength, dignity, possibilities and goodness of the individual as we work on behalf of the common good, both within our agency and in the communities we serve.

We build bridges across racial, cultural, religious, gender, age and socioeconomic groups. Our commitment to excellence and spirit of compassion encourages us to become better servant leaders in all that we do.

We are widely recognized throughout the Church in central and southern Indiana and local communities and principalities as being available to people in times of need and crisis. Through partnerships with public, private, educational and Church organizations, our seamless services distinguish us as an outstanding integrated care provider which incorporates the values of the Gospel embodied in the social teaching of the Church.

The theme we have adopted is “serving with compassion and love.” St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.”

Our daily work is a ministry that has been an integral part of the Church for 2,000 years. The Apostles and the early Church faced this ministry of caring for those in need. The Apostles appointed seven deacons, and their first ministry was to make sure that justice was reflected in the life of the community, that poor widows and children were cared for (Acts 6:1-4).

We are still serving the poor, individuals who are marginalized, immigrants and refugees, people of various racial backgrounds, and people with a disability or some condition that sets them apart.

Human service organizations, whether they are faith-based or community‑based, are two sides of the same coin and focused on the same object—human need.

Human need is the fulcrum upon which we balance our efforts. The ultimate rationale for our services—that provides us with a lasting vision—is our belief in the sanctity of the human person and the dignity of human life. This vision has kept us focused for 2,000 years, and will sustain our efforts throughout the rest of time.

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at

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