May 2, 2008

New agency director is embracing Church’s mission of helping others

Mark CasperBy John Shaughnessy

From the first day, Mark Casper knew that he had made the right decision in taking his new job.

“My first day on the job, a young couple picked up a baby they were adopting,” Casper recalls. “All you have to do is see that and you know the work you’re doing is rewarding. You see a baby go to a good home and a young couple happy, and you know it’s been a good day.”

Since that memorable start on April 7, the other days have also been going well for Casper, the new agency director of St. Elizabeth-Catholic Charities in New Albany. Among its many missions, the agency offers a residence and counseling to women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies. It’s also a licensed adoption agency in Indiana and Kentucky.

“It’s critical that the quality of our services be top-notch,” Casper says. “We’re dealing with a whole lot of people who are our future. Children are our future. They’re the ones you want to make sure you’re helping and protecting first.”

Working in a setting marked by young mothers, babies and diapers is a change for the 47-year-old Casper. He previously spent most of his career in the area of manufacturing management. Yet his connection to St. Elizabeth kept growing deeper and deeper during the year he served on the advisory council for the agency that also provides counseling and supported living for developmentally disabled people.

“I was looking forward to doing something different than manufacturing and this was a good fit,” he says. “The mission appealed to me. The work we do here is great work—helping others who are less fortunate and often can’t help themselves.”

It’s an approach to life that Casper learned from his parents. It’s an approach to life that he and his wife, Cindy, try to model for their 14-year-old twin daughters, Katie and Kassie.

“I was born and raised Catholic, one of nine children,” Casper says. “My parents were very active in the Church and the community. We lived in a house where we were shown to give back whatever you can to help others. It’s something my wife and I have always tried to show our children through our work in our parish.”

The Caspers are members of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Jeffersonville. The twins are in the eighth-grade at the parish school. Their father received a different kind of education through one of the parish’s programs.

“A few years back, I went through Christ Renews His Parish,” Casper says. “It was a good time to step back and see what you were doing with your time.”

A key part of his time now as agency director is trying to raise funds and making the most of the funds the agency does raise, especially during today’s challenging economic times.

“We want to be good stewards in using the resources we get,” he says.

He already recognizes his staff as the most valuable resource he has.

“You can see the passion they have for the work they do,” he says. “They care about people. It makes all the challenges of raising funds worthwhile.”

Casper will make a difference as agency director, according to David Siler, executive director of the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries.

“He knows the agency,” Siler says. “He knows the opportunities and the challenges ahead of him. He brings an experience in fundraising that’s a much needed asset of the job.”

Casper realizes he’s at a time and a place in his life where his work and his faith are united.

“Being a Catholic isn’t just about going to church on Sunday,” he says. “It’s about taking the gifts God gave you and using them to help others.” †

Local site Links: