Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith has recognized Oct. 31 as Catholic Social Services Sunday, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the agency founded by Monsignor Bill Irwin.

In addition, the last Sunday of October will be marked as Catholic Social Services Sunday from this day forward.

“Catholic Social Services continues to offer exemplary services to all who need them,” Archbishop Smith said in a statement. “Whether it is sheltering women fleeing domestic violence, assisting senior citizens suffering abuse, helping parolees successfully transition back into society, supporting new mothers who have nowhere else to turn, keeping the once-homeless permanently housed, providing residential care for adults with developmental disabilities, caring for high-risk youth, or resettling refugees escaping war-torn lands, CSS has been there on the frontlines, faithfully serving all those who need a helping hand in their time of desperation.

“I am very grateful for the work they do, and am continually inspired by the passion and dedication of the 1,900 staff and 400 volunteers of CSS who will walk daily alongside those who suffer.”

Monsignor Bill Irwin

In 1961, our world was very different. The Archdiocese maintained little in the way of formal social services agencies. However, there was a great desire to heed Christ’s invitation to feed, clothe and welcome the poor in a new kind of way.

To help answer this call, Catholic Social Services was founded in the Archdiocese of Edmonton in 1961, under the leadership of Monsignor Bill Irwin, and with the encouragement and blessing of Archbishop John MacDonald.

“Over the past 60 years, Catholic Social Services has served hundreds of thousands of Albertans. Its success has been fuelled by the generosity of the Catholic community who have volunteered their time or made much-needed donations,” Archbishop Smith said.

“I am grateful to each one of you who has made a contribution – no matter how great or small – in radiating Christ’s love through your dedication to this very special Agency within our Archdiocese. Catholic Social Services is an organization of which we can all be proud.

“While our world today seems very different from that of 1961, Christ’s call to attend to the needs of the poor and suffering, and to love our neighbour, remains timeless. In many ways that call has grown even louder in recent times.”

Read Archbishop Smith's Letter (PDF, 1 page)