100 Year - A History of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rochester

This year marks the 100th year anniversary of the founding of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, as well as the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities USA. Last year I wrote a rather unique history of Catholic Charities in the Diocese: Spirit Alive! Fifty Years of Consistent Life Ethic Advocacy and Parish Social Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester 1958-2008. I focused on these two aspects of the mission of Catholic Charities because as the 100th national anniversary was approaching, I felt focus on these elements was diminishing and that Rochester had done exceptionally well in these areas.

In celebration of our 100th anniversary, I have just completed my most recent volume, A History of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rochester 1910-2010. This is a more traditional history which focuses on organizational evolution and service delivery.

Probably the best way to summarize its content is the Introduction, printed below, which in bullet point form summarizes the major developments in each of the time periods covered in the eight chapters.

Happy reading!


For the convenience of the reader, highlights of each chapter are recorded here:

  • Chapter One: Getting Started 1910-1930
    1. Efforts of Bishop Thomas Hickey to establish the organization, obtain passage of state legislation to establish Catholic Charities Aid Association in each Diocese, and to enter into the Community Chest at the invitation of George Eastman
    2. Evolution of the core organization from the Relief Department to Rochester Catholic Charities, as well as the creation of St. Elizabeth’s Guild Association
    3. Creation of Charles and Genesee Settlement Houses
    4. Establishment of Camp Stella Maris
    5. Creation of the first incarnation of Elmira Catholic Charities
  • Chapter Two: Centralization and Growth 1930-1950
    1. Contributions of Bishop John Francis O’Hern (1929-’33), Cardinal Edward Mooney (1933-’37) and Bishop James Kearney (1937-’66)
    2. Appointment of Father Walter Foery in 1930 as first Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities and Monsignor Gerald Lambert as his successor
    3. Purchase of Columbus Civic Center and establishment of the Columbus Youth Association
    4. Efforts to respond to the Great Depression and the Second World War
    5. Establishment of St. Joseph’s Villa
    6. Evolution of the casework agency into Catholic Family Center
  • Chapter Three: Stability and the Winds of Change 1951-1965
    1. Under Bishop Kearney, leadership provided by Diocesan Charities Directors Monsignor Lambert (1937-’52), Father Arthur Ratigan (1952-’63) and Father Don Mulcahy (1963-’70)
    2. Professionalization and expansion of services at Catholic Family Center
    3. Continuing activities of the various components of the agency
    4. Transformation of the Columbus Youth Association into the Catholic Youth Organization
  • Chapter Four: A Time of Turbulence 1965-1979
    1. Leadership provided by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who replaced Bishop Kearney in 1966, Bishop Joseph Hogan (1969-’79) and Bishop Matthew Clark (1979-present)
    2. Establishment by Bishop Sheen of the “secular mission” which evolved into the Office of Human Development
    3. Diocesan Charities leadership provided by Father Mulcahy, Father William Charbonneu (1971-’73) and Father Joseph D’Aurizio (1973-’76)
    4. The hiring of Father Charles Mulligan on January 1, 1997 as Diocesan Director of the Office of Social Ministry and his work with Maurice Tierney, whom he hired as Diocesan Catholic Charities Director, to create the “Catholic Charities of the Future” Report in 1979
    5. Integration of the Office of Human Development and the Catholic Charities organization into the Office of Social Ministry
    6. “Spinning Off” of St. Ann’s Home, St. Joseph’s Villa, Charles Settlement House, Genesee Settlement House, DePaul Clinic and the Kinship Group Home Program
    7. Transfer of administrative responsibility of the Family Life Office to Catholic Charities
  • Chapter Five: Implementation of Catholic Charities of the Future 1980-1985
    1. Creation of the Justice and Peace Department
    2. Creation of the Southern Tier Office of Social Ministry
    3. Creation of the Finger Lakes Office of Social Ministry
    4. Development of Services to Disabled Persons
    5. Renewal of Social Ministry and creation of the Genesee Valley Office of Social Ministry
  • Chapter Six: The Further Development of the Office of Social Ministry 1985-1993
    1. Appointment of Father John Firpo on July 1, 1985 as Diocesan Director of Social Ministry
    2. Evolution of the Genesee Valley Office of Social Ministry
    3. Evolving Administrative Structure
    4. Creation of the “new” Catholic Family Center
    5. Transition in Board and staff leadership
    6. Appointment of Jack Balinsky as Diocesan Director of Social Ministry on July 1, 1992
    7. Creation of a new foundation for the organization
    8. Creation of Catholic Charities Community Services in 1992
  • Chapter Seven: A Time of Growth and Expansion 1993-2002
    1. Continuing existing agency activities
    2. Creation of Providence Housing Development Corporation in 1994
    3. Creation of Catholic Charities of Livingston County in 1995
    4. Catholic Chartities USA national meeting in 1999, Catholic Charities Capital Campaign 2000, and creation of Works of Love program in 2001
    5. Ongoing efforts leading to the transformation of Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier into four new subsidiaries effective January 1, 2003
    6. Reintegration of Kinship Family and Youth Services into Catholic Charities in 2000
  • Chapter Eight: Achieving Efficiency and Accountability 2003-2010
    1. Continuing existing agency activities
    2. The growth of the four new Southern Tier subsidiaries: Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler Counties, Catholic Charities of Steuben County, Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga Counties and Food Bank of the Southern Tier
    3. Creation of Catholic Charities of Wayne County in 2004
    4. Considerable strengthening of centralized services


Jack Balinsky
1329 Wellington Drive
Victor, New York 14564

 (585) 738-8647