February 2, 2007

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Agency review brings changes to Catholic Charities

One year ago, following the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), I wrote in this column about the response of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to the pope’s call to the Church to respond effectively to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

I informed you that each of our six charities agencies would conduct a thorough agency assessment to ensure that we are being the best stewards possible of the resources available to us to serve the poor. I wish to report to you the first significant change as a result of this review.

St. Elizabeth/Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Services in Indianapolis was the first agency to go through an assessment. Led by an organizational consultant and conducted by agency staff, advisory council members, community partners and other community volunteers, this process has led to the recommendation of a change in the way pregnancy and adoption services are delivered in central Indiana.

After a thorough evaluation of the trends in the field of unintended pregnancy and adoption services, we have concluded that we will no longer provide a residential maternity program and instead will allocate our resources to providing in-home/outreach pregnancy and adoption services.

This decision is primarily in response to a growing social trend that has reduced the stigma associated with unwed pregnant mothers. Girls and young women with unintended pregnancies are now staying in their homes or with their families. They are generally not being sent to residential facilities for the duration of their pregnancies.

We will continue to provide temporary crisis shelter at one of our other Catholic Charities facilities in Indianapolis, Holy Family Services, which serves homeless families, and a single pregnant woman is considered a family.

Although the residential maternity home has been a part of our services for many decades, the changes in our society demand that we respond in order to adapt to these changes in such a way as to remain available to serve this population for many more decades to come. While we feel sadness in letting go of a service that we have provided for so long and the need to lay off several employees as a result, we feel excitement about the new possibilities before us.

The agency assessment has also led us to commit our limited resources to our growing adoption program. Since St. Elizabeth merged with Coleman Adoption Services in August of 2004, the number of families created through adoption has steadily increased.

We will refocus our efforts to identify even more women in more parts of our archdiocese that need support to carry their children to term and prepare to parent their children or to create an adoption plan. We will be exploring new ways to deliver

in-home services to meet the needs of women who find themselves in a crisis due to a pregnancy.

More than ever, we need your prayers and your financial support in order to continue to remain fully committed to this very important part of our archdiocesan pro-life mission.

To obtain all of the most up-to-date information about St. Elizabeth/Coleman, please visit our Web site at


(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries.) †

Local site Links: