Pastors, parish secretaries and social ministry staff from 17 Bronx parishes packed a “Parish Partnership Forum” held Friday, February 28, at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. The event marked the second in a series of meetings that Catholic Charities Regional Coordinator Fr. Eric Cruz organized to tap into parish potential to team up with Catholic Charities in serving those in need.
“The forums have been a blessing,” Fr. Cruz said. “They allow us to speak about the daily crisis intervention services of Catholic Charities, learn about the numerous services and collaborative opportunities in the Bronx, and, perhaps most importantly, meet people who share the same passion for the poor and needy, regardless of race, language, of creed.”
Brought together this time were spokespersons from the Catholic Charities eviction prevention programs, Fidelis and ArchCare health insurance programs, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Calvary Hospital, known best for its onsite and home hospice programs.
Dr. Michael Brescia, Executive Medical Director of Calvary Hospital, spoke movingly to an audience of 57 people about the hospital’s ability to address the issues of terminal illness and grief that envelope not just the patient but the whole family.
Dr. Oscar Alvarez then gave an overview of Calvary’s Wound Care program. This program has helped so many within the Bronx community that it has earned a reputation that extends far and wide.
Less known, however, is the Wound Care program’s willingness to travel to other sites to screen patients and educate them about proper wound care.
Dr. Alvarez brought this issue home by speaking with audience members about the Wound Care program’s interest in identifying possible parish locations that could be established as centers for this outreach.
Next, Catholic Charities Case Managers Jose Jimenez and Andrew Olesh discussed Catholic Charities’ eviction prevention services. These programs aim to intervene before evictions take place, employing a comprehensive approach that assists clients with services ranging from employment to daycare to housing issues of all kinds.
Finally, spokespersons from Fidelis, an affordable New York State Catholic health plan for people of all ages and stages of life, and ArchCare, a program that provides care to frail and elderly people unable to full care for themselves, rounded out the forum. They provided presentations about their health insurance programs and insights on how programs and individuals will be impacted by the nation’s new Affordable Care Act.
The forums, Fr. Cruz said, represent early steps in a long-term mission.
“We must communicate more,” he said. “We must collaborate more.
“We, especially Catholic Charities of the Bronx, must support our parishes and engage the faithful. We can help educate, empower, and engage them to become active partners – as advocates and volunteers – in the mission of Catholic Charities, the mission of the Church.”