Catholic Charities celebrates impact of Berks County Angel Society

Executive Director of Catholic Charities Diane Bullard expresses gratitude to Mary and Bob Wert for hosting this event for the second year. (Photos by John Simitz)

The mission of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown is “to provide compassionate human services with respect for the sanctity of all human life.”

Bishop Alfred Schlert explained to those gathered at the agency’s Berks County Angel Society event, Sept. 20 at the home of Mary and Bob Wert, how Catholic Charities brings that mission to life every day to those in need throughout the Diocese.

Approximately 50 people attended the event hosted by the Werts, parishioners of St. Ignatius Loyola Church, Sinking Spring. The focus of the evening was to celebrate the impact of Catholic Charities in Berks County and invite attendees to become involved through the agency’s Angel Society.

“Supporting Catholic Charities and hosting this event are part of our calling as faithful Catholics. In a tangible and meaningful way, we are delighted to do our part in building the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth,” said Bob Wert.

Catholic Charities’ Angel Society was established in 2013 by a group of lead donors to address growing need. Since that year more than 100 generous donors have joined the giving society, contributing more than $500,000 and increasing the number of people touched by life-transforming services of Catholic Charities.

Also addressing those gathered for the festive event were: Diane Bullard, executive director of Catholic Charities and secretary of the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Human Services; Paul Wirth, board chair of Catholic Charities; and Mike McGrail, co-chair of the Angel Society.

Gary (Rob) Laubenheimer, case worker for Catholic Charities’ Veterans Support Services program, expressed to the group what he sees when working with homeless and near homeless veterans.

“When you are trying to guide someone to the light at the end of the tunnel there are obstacles, speed bumps, crashes,” he said.

“For some this means the light gets smaller and smaller until it becomes nonexistent. This is a large factor in why 22 veterans a day are committing suicide. But that’s where Catholic Charities comes in. If we can remove those roadblocks and speed bumps, we are able to create a straighter and smoother path to that light.

“When a case manager is able to restore lost hope and lost ambition, the case management really begins and the sky is the limit. When other agencies turn a client away for various reasons, he or she can always come to Catholic Charities because, at Catholic Charities, it is never too late.”

Others attending the fund-raising soiree included: Father Thomas Bortz, pastor of St. Ignatius; Father Keith Mathur, assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Reading; Father Stephan Isaac, assistant pastor of St. Ignatius; Paul Acampora, secretary of the diocesan Secretariat for Stewardship and Development; Rob Nicolella, administrator, Catholic Charities; and Julie Scheck, director of advancement, Catholic Charities.

Last year, Catholic Charities – which serves individuals of all faiths – helped nearly 20,000 individuals including older adults in need of support services; veterans in need of job training and guidance in finding benefits; individuals and families in need of counseling; the homeless and hungry in need of a nutritious meal; and pregnant women in need of direction and support.

Instead of simply offering “handouts,” Catholic Charities provides essential case management along with material support to help strengthen families and guide them toward greater self-sufficiency.

By becoming a member of the Angel Society, members help strengthen families, and show mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable in our community.

Catholic Charities provides these services: strengthening families, case management; counseling; housing services; soup kitchens, veterans support services, immigration services, pregnancy and parenting support; services for older adults, services for survivors of human trafficking, food pantries, adult day care and infant adoption.

Wirth underscored the fact that Catholic Charities staff members are excellent stewards of donor dollars. Ninety-three percent of every dollar goes directly toward services for clients.

McGrail shared his experience with Catholic Charities and why he believes so strongly in its mission. “As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; and if we love, we will serve.’

“At the very core of Christ’s teaching and our fundamental duty of faith as Christians is love for our neighbors in need. As St. Teresa's life so exemplified, service and charity are Christ’s love in action through us.

“Day in and day out, Catholic Charities, with your generous and critical support, puts this love in action with its countless vital services to thousands of needy people throughout our communities.”

Bullard expressed gratitude to Mary and Bob Wert for hosting this event for the second year.

“Mary and Bob Wert certainly went above and beyond to host such a beautiful event in their lovely home,” said Bullard. “It was truly heart-warming to be among so many people who support and promote the mission of the agency and the social mission of the Church.”

For more information about the Angel Society, contact Julie Scheck at 610-871-5200, ext. 2216 or