Stephen Carattini

Stephen Carattini

July 13, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Human dignity is the basis for Catholic social teaching "and for the work that we engage in at Catholic Social Services," says the agency's chief executive officer.

"We believe that each person has dignity precisely because they have been created by God (and) that each life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death is worthy of our love, care and compassion," Stephen Carattini said at CSS's annual meeting at the Winspear Centre June 24.

"We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things."

Carattini said the agency's concern for others is manifested through its work with people challenged in various ways:

  • The developmentally disabled.
  • The elderly.
  • Families and children in crisis.
  • Those living with chronic disease.
  • Immigrants and refugees.
  • Young women fleeing the streets.
  • Those recently released from prison.
  • People overcoming substance and alcohol abuse.

This year CSS changed its venue for the annual meeting, which was usually a luncheon at the Hotel MacDonald for some 300 people. By holding it at the Winspear, they hoped to make the meeting more inclusive. About 500 employees, clients, volunteers and guests from several parts of Alberta attended the event.

Carattini noted CSS continues to reflect on its mission "to make sure that what we do and the way we go about our work truly protects, enhances and advances the dignity of the people we are blessed to serve."

To that end, he announced, CSS has embarked upon an agency-wide review of all its policies, practices and procedures.

"We are increasing our capacity to support and sustain the ministries of our agency by repairing, renovating and investing in our group homes, residences and offices so that they reflect the dignity of our people who live and work in them," the CEO said.

"As we look to the future, we will continue to serve those who are most vulnerable in our communities," he stressed. CSS plans to search for groups of people with needs not being met by government or other providers.

"This will include providing services to women in crisis pregnancies, people seeking faith-based counselling services, and homeless men and women who are diagnosed with a terminal illness."

CSS executive vice-president Michelle Christie said the agency's employees and volunteers provide daily emotional, physical and spiritual care for an array of clients, including adults with disabilities, children and families, new immigrants and refugees.

"Our people are dedicated," Christie said. "With minus 30 degrees (outside) and 20 centimetres of fresh snow and ice on the roads, while many of us are tucked into our warm beds, our employees faithfully change their shifts at 7 a.m. and again at 3 and 11 p.m.

"For those who work for us, it is not just a job, it's about giving from our hearts."

Last year the agency had more than 1,000 volunteers who gave more than 23,000 hours of direct service.

CSS supported more than 21,000 clients last year.