Our History

142 years of Serving and Lifting the most vulnerable in our communities.

In 1879, Father Bernard Donnelly established Mount St. Bernard’s Orphanage in Kansas City. With that one act of faith, hope and charity, many lives — and a community — were transformed.

And, from that humble beginning a strong tradition of compassionate care and social service took root, thrived and grew to become Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Today, millions of lives have been transformed, and our community is a much different — much better — place.

Catholic Charities in 1942

1879-1909 During these first three decades, thousands of infants, children, young mothers and aging adults found shelter and support through Catholic social service agencies. Mt. St. Bernard’s Orphanage, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Elderly, St. Anthony’s Home for Infants and St. Vincent’s Maternity Hospital opened their doors to all, regardless of faith.

1927 Catholic social service agencies in Kansas City merged into a single Catholic Welfare Bureau and added support services for youth in the juvenile detention system.

1935-1945 As the depression lingered and World War II loomed, Kansas City’s needs changed and grew. The Catholic Welfare Bureau added food kitchens, family and foster care services and programs that served offenders. During and after the war, the Bureau added employment training, housing assistance and counseling programs to assist veterans and their families.

Catholic Charities in 1942

Fr. Pat Tobin and Mother Teresa

1950’s-1980’s During an era of sweeping social change, the Catholic Welfare Bureau expanded and adapted to serve more people with more services. Fr. Pat Tobin served as associate executive director, and launched new programming for ex-offenders, community gardens, assistance for refugees and housing programs.

1964 President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty. The agency joined the fight and merged with additional diocesan social services. In 1967, it was renamed Catholic Family and Community Services.

Fr. Pat Tobin and Mother Teresa

Rashey Moten 1970

1970 Rashey Moten named Executive Director. He became the first African-American to lead a Catholic Charities organization. He earned national praise for his pioneering leadership, which brought social work back to providing hands-on, day-to-today services to the poor and vulnerable.

1977-1980 Catholic Family and Community Services renamed Catholic Charities. When a branch opened to serve Northwest Missouri, it became Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Rashey Moten 1970

Today, Catholic Charities provides assistance to at-risk individuals and families with services that are designed to address immediate needs.

Emergency assistance, food, personal hygiene items, and transportation supports – but also to create long term stability – employment services, permanent housing, and family programming designed to increase parenting knowledge, promote appropriate childhood development and create financial stability.

In the news

The Light is Near

The Light is Near

“Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.” - Meister Eckhart When it comes to employment and poverty, the two have been proven to go hand-in-hand. In fact, of those walking into Catholic...

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Defying the Darkness

Defying the Darkness

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” - Anne Frank When I think about hardships faced by people who are homeless, I often think back to a situation a few years ago. On that particular day, temperatures were below freezing when a Catholic...

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