BRIDGEPORT—The new Thomas Merton Family Center will host a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, March 31, 10 a.m. at its soon-to-be new location, 1406 State Street in Bridgeport.
The morning will begin with the 10 a.m. reception with the formal program beginning at 11 a.m.. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will bless the new site and serve as the lead speaker, along with Mike Donoghue, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, which sponsors Merton Center.
They are expected to be joined by Congressman Jim Himes, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim and other area leaders to inaugurate the new era for Merton Center.
Merton Center has been at its present location in the former St. Joseph German Catholic Church at 43 Madison Avenue since 1989. Founded on November 17, 1974, as a soup kitchen in downtown Bridgeport, it was originally known as Merton House.
Best known to many for the hot meals it serves daily and its take-home food pantry, Merton House also serves as a day shelter. One hundred percent of its guests fall below the poverty level or are working poor.
Mike Donoghue said the new, 13,000 square foot facility, which is now undergoing renovations, will enable Merton Center to significantly expand operations and the scope of services. Merton Center is projecting a 3,000 increase in the number of individual it will serve in the new facility.
“Catholic Charities is stepping up to invest in a much larger Thomas Merton Family Center facility, which will help the working poor and some of the most vulnerable members of the Bridgeport community with expanded services such as food, medical care, behavioral health care, immigration legal services, ESL classes, parenting classes, job training, financial budgeting assistance– all in one location,” said Donoghue.
Donoghue said that Merton Center has outgrown its Madison Avenue site, and that the new location will enable to offer “wraparound services and better partner with other social agencies in the city including the Southwest Community Health Center.
He said the goal is to “help guests along their path to self-sufficiency by respecting the dignity of each guests and providing a safe and hope-filled support community.”
Catholic Charities has launched a $5.5 million Capital Campaign to provide funding for the new location. To date, 75% of the funds have been raised. When completed the new Merton Center will include a dining hall, kitchen, food pantry, multi-purpose room, conference room, break room, elevators, showers and 14 offices. The capital campaign committee include Laure Aubuchon, Carol Calandra, Sheila Clancy, Mark Kelly, Michael McNulty, and Mary Ann O’Connor. Anne O. McCrory is serving as Chair of the Foundations in Charity Board.
Merton Center, under the direction of Bill Colson, currently services 400 meals every day for breakfast and lunch. It also has a shower program for guest, a mail program to provide an address for the homeless, a food pantry that serves 425 families each month, and case management services.
For Further Information contact: Mike Donoghue
Office: 203-416-1370. Mobile: 203-858-7327