Almost 400 guests and friends of Catholic Charities turned out for the benefit breakfast at The Amber Room Colonnade. The breakfast event raised more than $65,000 for the mental health and social services provided by Catholic Charities in the greater Danbury area.
Anthony Giobbi and MaryAnn Murtha served as co-chairs of the event. Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, delivered the invocation and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton expressed words of gratitude for those who support the work of Catholic Charities.
In his featured talk, Dr. Murphy, who leads a new health system with seven hospitals serving 1.5 million people in Connecticut and New York, said social services provided by Catholic Charities and other organizations play a critical role in the overall health and wellbeing of families.
He noted that poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, food insecurity and lack of transportation drive up healthcare costs and lead to chronic medical conditions.
“Housing, assistance, counseling, case management, homeless outreach and immigration services are precisely the kinds of service that we know are crucial to improving the health of a community,” Dr. Murphy said
He added that Catholic Charities is part of a long tradition of standing up for the poor and the immigrants that began to arrive in this country in the 19th century.
“Most of us are the children or grandchildren of immigrants and Danbury has long been home to wave after wave of immigrant families. It is the most diverse city in Connecticut and the eleventh most diverse city in the nation with 31 percent of its residents being foreign born,” he said.
He cited the annual report of the Association for Improving Conditions of the Poor that referred to the children of Irish Catholic immigrants as “accumulated poor.”
“The Children’s Aid Society began breaking up Irish families by removing tens of thousands of children from their homes. It was around this time that Catholic child-caring institutions emerged and Catholics learned to leverage their position in charity to win a voice in local, state and national policy making.
He said Catholic Charities not only provides services but it staff are “advocates and justice workers” for the poor, regardless of their faith.
Dr. Murphy, a Fordham University graduate, said that the United States spends 20 percent of its GDP on healthcare but only 10 percent on social services, less than half of other western nations. The gap between the two has led to repeat emergency room and hospital visits, which are costly and a poor use of resources.
“Recent studies have demonstrated the critical relationship between the two. The less a country spends on social services the poorer the outcomes in terms of life expectance and infant mortality. These are areas where we’re losing ground,” he said.
He said the U.S. is number 28 out of 34 countries for low birth rate, and 26 out of 34 developed countries in terms of life expectancy.
“The average life expectance of 78.6 has fallen three years in a row. The last time that happened was 1915 to 1918,” he said.
“The leaders of Catholic Charities know and face the same reality they confronted 150 years ago—private charity alone will not met the needs of the millions,” he said, adding that only shared public and private responsibility and an acceptance that the poor “belong to all of us” will address the challenge of poverty in America.
Dr. Murphy completed his talk by saying “Jesus Christ was born poor, lived poor and died poor. The Church cannot be any different,” he said
Nuvance Health includes Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital Center and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York—plus multiple primary and specialty care physician practice location.
Catholic Charities of Northern Fairfield County’s program include the Behavioral Health Clinic located at 405 Main Street in Danbury, The Family Loan Program to cover auto, rental and childcare expenses, the Morning Glory Breakfast Program located at Dorothy Day Hospitality House at 15 Spring Street, the Homeless Outreach Team, Community Support and Recovery Pathways, 24 Grassy Plain Street, Bethel and New Heights psychosocial recovery programming for adult with mental illness, 64 West Street, Danbury.
(For more information contact Catholic Charities of Northern Fairfield County at 203.743.4412 or online at www.ccfairfield.org.)
As seen on the DOB, Fairfield County Catholic website.