Harrisburg Diocesan Welfare Program: A History of Its Organized Social Services, 1868-1957

Mary Katherine Goldbach, Fordham University


Harrisburg, See city of the Harrisburg Diocese, capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of an approximately eight thousand square mile missionary territory. "Saintly zeal, prudent judgment and a willingness to perform unselfish work for souls'' are particular qualities sought in the clergy who would labor here. Consider how generously the parish priest of early rural Pennsylvania contributed by his sacrifice and self denial to the welfare of the families and individuals in his pastoral care for it was to him that they turned for counsel and assistance in matters of a material as well as spiritual nature. Often, too, help was offered by the Catholic layman who by personal charity put into practice the command of Christ, "love thy neighbor". Consequently it is easy to assume that wherever there was a parish some measures were taken to meet the social problems of the day. In Colonial Pennsylvania and later, life did not have the same complexities as it has today ; therefore, these charitable acts sufficed. But the problems presented to the parish priest today are frequently more involved and often require a specialized knowledge of the social resources available. For this reason referral is sometimes made to the central Catholic Charities office or the nearest area office where additional appropriate services are offered. The whole range of diocesan services will be the subject of this paper and necessarily the organized services of Catholic Charities will be emphasized but will not be the only ones presented.

Subject Area

Public administration|Social work

Recommended Citation

Goldbach, Mary Katherine, "Harrisburg Diocesan Welfare Program: A History of Its Organized Social Services, 1868-1957" (1958). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30509537.