Caritas Corner | The Passion to Do His Work

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Our community lost a beautiful man and priest last month with the passing of Monsignor Don Dunn.  Among so many life accomplishments, one of his most important may have been the founding of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado in 1968.  The stated focus at the time was child welfare.

Father Dunn’s inspiration lives on in so many ways, but it struck me profoundly on the morning of Sept. 26 in Albuquerque.  There, on the second day of the Catholic Charities USA Annual Gathering, our very own Sarah Bidon received the Bishop Sullivan Award for distinguished service to children, youth, and families.  As an agency, it was an honor to have this incredible counselor receive national recognition for doing the work Father Dunn started 51 years ago.

Standing before a room of Catholic Charities representatives from around the country, Sarah eloquently put into words the importance of, and the reason for, doing this work.  So instead of my normal column, I wanted to share the following portion of Sarah’s acceptance speech in the belief that our readers will find it as inspiring as the thousands who heard it delivered.  Sarah said:

“As verse two of ‘The Song of the Body’ goes: ‘We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor.  We are called to feed the hungry at our door.’  

It is Christ who works through us to touch our clients.

What a privilege it has been to watch my clients find strength, resilience, courage, and healing within themselves.

I would like to share a story with you about a client.  Let’s call her Faith.  Faith was a 15-year-old pregnant client, and she was my very first client.  Faith had mental health and addiction issues.  Trying to stay clean for the baby’s sake, she was willing to teach me about her troubled life and trusted me to help her on the journey.

Faith came back to me two more times – pregnant both times!  I said what kind of pregnancy counselor am I?  There was a time when her boys were taken from Faith due to a relapse and some mental health issues, but she worked on her treatment plan and got the boys back.  Over the years, Faith used the resources in our community through many challenges and would come back to me periodically for counseling.

And now for the rest of the story.  I was invited to her wedding.  She married a man with two girls.  I heard from Faith about a year ago; she was working on a degree in counseling.

When I started at Catholic Charities we had enough pregnancy clients that all I did was Options Counseling.  Years later we started cross-training and added adoption casework, then progressed to Search and Reunion.  Now we also do Individual, Family, and Couples Counseling.  It is so wonderful to have worked at Catholic Charities long enough to have been a part of a baby’s placement and now work with some of those young adult adoptees as they come back to work on their own issues.

But I must admit that the most profound work I do is to be part of Project Rachel, the church’s outreach to post-abortive men and women.  To be a part of witnessing their grieving and healing process is beyond words.  It is powerful to watch the Holy Spirit work.

I thank God for the passion He puts in my heart to do His work.”

Father Don Dunn would be proud to know that the work he began is in these expert hands.

Andy Barton is the President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.  This article first appeared in the Colorado Catholic Herald.

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