Pastor’s Appeal for New Catholic Charities Initiative

I will send a farewell letter next week, but I write today with a request to support an upcoming Catholic Charities initiative.

This Sunday is my last Sunday Mass as Pastor. My very last Mass, however, will be this Wednesday, June 28th at 12:10PM. It is fortuitous but not accidental. My first Mass as Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo was also June 28th. This was a few days early, but I asked Msgr. LoPinto if I could celebrate it because it is the anniversary of the death of Msgr. Charles Diviney, a former Pastor of St. Charles who was a dear friend and mentor. Msgr. LoPinto graciously consented, and I felt that Charlie was guiding me in my time here. I am happy that I will close my Pastorate on the same day with the hope and prayer that I did not disappoint him.

Among the many things I learned at St. Charles was the critical importance that Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ) plays in the lives of so many people. Our partnership with CCBQ both to the food insecure beginning during the pandemic and welcoming asylum seekers when they were sent to us not only assisted and continues to help many people in need but strengthened our parish in countless ways. This participation developed during unprecedented situations, and we can be proud of our response. The situation has now changed, and we must assess how we can better help our neighbors. We have the unique advantage of being a block away from CCBQ’s administrative offices at 191 Joralemon St and the disadvantage of not having dedicated space for the social services we would like to provide.

CCBQ has space at 55 Pierrepoint that will be reconceived to distribute food and clothing. The aim is to open it two days per week. This would also allow for a more constructive use of the staff of CCBQ. The clients would first go to 191 Joralemon where a case worker would assess their needs and give them a voucher for immediate assistance from 55 Pierrepont but also explore how more long-term issues can be addressed.  This would permit a greater depth of assistance. It would also mean that people would not have to stand in line. This is not only inconvenient but does not treat people with dignity. Assistance is Catholic only when it enhances the dignity of those receiving it.

This is exciting but it will come neither easily nor cheaply. As I leave St. Charles, I would ask you to consider physically participating when the plans become more developed but also to contribute financially now. I have personally pledged a monthly donation to be automatically deducted from my account and would ask anyone who might wish to give me a gift at my departure from the parish to support this effort instead. I would ask that you plainly mark the check for “55 Pierrepont” or give to the Support 55 Pierrepont fund on our online giving portal.

For those of you already in your summer homes or on vacation, please remember me at Mass this weekend as I assure you that I will remember you.

With great gratitude and affection for six wonderful years, I remain

In Christ,
Fr. Bill Smith