PASTORAL CENTER — Offering possibilities for increased collaboration with the diocese, the administrative staff of Catholic Charities has found a new home at the diocesan Pastoral Center.
Seventeen Catholic Charities staff members, including Executive Director Robert Moser, moved into the building on July 14 at the invitation of Bishop Robert W. McElroy.
On July 17, the diocesan staff gathered for an informal lunch to welcome their new neighbors. In brief remarks at the gathering, Diocesan Chancellor Rod Valdivia said the relocation represents “a historic moment” for the diocese, and Bishop McElroy hailed it as “a happy day” and “a wonderful coming together of our ministries.”
“We all have different structures … and different modes of operation,” Bishop McElroy said, addressing the combined staffs, “but, in the end, it all comes down to the fact that we’re trying to live out the implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and assist all those in these counties [of San Diego and Imperial] to know the face of Christ.”
He predicted that there would be “cross-fertilization” between Catholic Charities, which is an independent 501c3 charitable organization, and the diocesan offices as they discover ways to assist one another in accomplishing “that task of making the face of Christ more evident here in our midst.”
After being introduced by Bishop McElroy, Moser addressed the luncheon attendees. He echoed the bishop’s sentiments, noting that many of Catholic Charities’ ministries enjoy “a natural connection” with the work of various diocesan offices and that there will be many opportunities for the agency “to work side-by-side, not only physically but programmatically,” with the diocese.
He added that the agency’s declared goal of establishing a presence at local parishes and making its services more accessible at the parish level will only be enhanced by the shared workspace, owing to the diocese’s “long track record of seeing the parishes as your constituent.”
At various points in the history of the Diocese of San Diego, Catholic Charities and diocesan offices have shared office space. At the luncheon, Valdivia recalled that the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life had worked out of the Catholic Charities building on Cedar Street in downtown San Diego, before the diocese’s acquisition of the Pastoral Center facility. Also, when Catholic Charities opened a new building in El Centro in the 1990s, he said, diocesan offices moved into the facility to help provide services in the Imperial Valley.
Plans for the relocation of Catholic Charities’ administrative offices to the Pastoral Center began after the agency’s downtown offices sustained extensive flood damage in late January. Not long after the flood, Bishop McElroy invited the organization to take up residence at the Pastoral Center, Moser said, and the agency’s leadership was immediately enthusiastic about the idea. Its recent relocation has coincided with an extension reorganization and consolidation of diocesan office space within the building. Its new offices had previously been occupied by The Southern Cross.
Though Catholic Charities’ administrative offices are now housed within the Pastoral Center, its direct services will continue to be spread throughout the diocese. For example, Moser said, the agency has refugee programs based out of Mission Valley; shelters in Carlsbad, Calexico and El Centro; counseling and homeless women’s programs in downtown San Diego; and a senior nutrition program in the Imperial Valley.
“When we had the flood and the damage … for many of [the agency’s staffers], the feeling was just like if your home burned down or a hurricane blew it away,” Moser said, explaining that many of them had been with the agency for more than 30 years and the previous building had been the only one they had ever known.
Among other things, he said, the new location will provide a much needed sense of stability.