A Brief History







On February 11, 1947, Catholic Charities of Northern Virginia was established under the authority of Bishop Peter Leo Ireton. It was directed by Fr. Thomas Scannell. Children's Services was the first service to be offered by the new agency. The initial staff consisted of one professional case worker and one clerical assistant. The first budget was $25, 723. In 1948, the agency qualified for Community Chest funds and subsequently received support through its successor, The United Givers Fund. From 1951 to June 1960, Rev. Thomas Hesnan was the director.

The population of northern Virginia continued to increase as did requests to the new offices for services. A branch office was established in the old St. Mary's Lyceum, in Alexandria, housing a children's service worker, a secretary and a clothing room staffed by volunteers. The agency offered services to unmarried mothers, foster care, adoption and some financial assistance. Because so much paper work was being transmitted between Richmond and northern Virginia, primarily adoption related documents, it became necessary to establish a separate corporation. Accordingly, in 1959, the agency was incorporated as Catholic Charities of Northern Virginia.

In 1960, Msgr. Thomas Cassidy became the Director with Ms. Ann Stone as Director of Casework. In 1964, Emily Lay joined the staff and began the Family Services Department, In 1965, a branch office was opened in Fairfax. In 1969, Rev. James Sweeney became Director followed by Mr. Aaron Palmer in 1970.

The year 1974 marked an important year in the history of the diocese and the agency. The twenty-one counties and seven independent cities of the Richmond diocese located in northern Virginia now formed the Diocese of Arlington. The agency became Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Inc. with Rev. Frank Hendricks as Director, Deacon Dan Resendes as Deputy Director and Mr. Aaron Palmer as Director of Casework Services. The agency opened an office in Winchester offering children's services, family counseling and emergency assistance to the western part of the diocese.

When Rev. Gerard Creedon became the Director in 1981, the agency then consisted of the following programs: Children's Services, Family Services, St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, Christ House Shelter, Emergency Assistance, Immigration and Refugee Services, Prison Ministry, Child Development, Neighborhood Development and the Winchester District Office. During Fr. Creedon's tenure, Parish Social Ministry, Services to the Disabled and AGAPE Hispanic Social Services were added as programs.

In September 1988, Rev. John T. O'Hara was appointed by Bishop John R. Keating to become the Executive Director.

In 1990 the Fredericksburg District Office was founded to serve the southern part of the diocese with both Children's Services and Family Services.

In 1994 Catholic Charities subsumed Hogar Hispano as a new program bringing the agency to its present size. With this newest program, Catholic Charities is able to provide immigration support, emergency assistance, English language training and other services to immigrants.

In 1998 Rev. Charles C. McCoart succeeded Fr. O'Hara. Then, in June 2003, Stephen Luteran became Executive Director.

Our homeless shelter at Christ House was completely renovated in 2007. The same year, we established our new Western Regional Office in Leesburg. In March 2009, we opened St. Margaret of Cortona Transtional Housing for homeless families. In October 2009, the diocesan Migration and Refugee Services became part of Catholic Charities

Today, Catholic Charities has 12 programs in more than 14 locations throughout the diocese. The annual budget is more than $5 million. The professional staff of Catholic Charities is dedicated to our clients and finds the spiritual and temporal support of our many friends and benefactors to be an inspiration. We look forward to continuing our service to the poor and needy in northern Virginia.

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