The name of the new Catholic Charities headquarters is revealed during a March 17 ribbon cutting ceremony. MIKE MAY/STAFF

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Catholic Charities inaugurates new headquarters

When naming its new home, Catholic Charities of Omaha found the perfect expression of its own mission in a model of selfless, loving service.

Before an audience of nearly 100 donors, board members, clergy, staff, volunteers and others, the name was revealed during a March 17 ribbon cutting ceremony – the St. Teresa of Calcutta Campus.

“As we were considering the naming of this building, we were drawn to a more recent saint of the Church, someone whose name is synonymous with service to the poor, and who saw the face of Jesus Christ in each and every person she served,” said Father Mike Eckley, executive director emeritus, during opening comments.

“It is altogether fitting that we should look to her as an example of how we are to serve and encounter each and every one of our brothers and sisters.”

“Our new facility will allow us to show Christ’s love to many more of our brothers and sisters who are struggling, … expand our reach and deepen our impact in the community,” he said.

Father Mike Eckley, executive director emeritus of Catholic Charities of Omaha, addresses people attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the organization’s new headquarters March 17. He is flanked by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, left, Mike Moylan, a member of Catholic Charities’ foundation board, Denise Bartels, incoming executive director, and Archbishop George J. Lucas. MIKE MAY/STAFF

Father Eckley also spoke of his own personal experience as someone whose life was touched by Catholic Charities.

“I can recall, myself, in the 1970s as a young boy, when there was a crisis in our family, Catholic Charities was there to help us and support us.”

The 36,000-square-foot campus, at 9223 Bedford Ave. in Omaha, will house a food pantry and other food distribution services, offices for counselors, administrative and other staff, plus meeting and collaboration space. The organization will continue to operate its St. Martin de Porres Center in north Omaha and the St. Juan Diego Center in south Omaha.

Also on the program, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts contrasted the help and support provided by government with that provided by organizations such as Catholic Charities.

“We do a lot of really important things in government,” he said. “We build roads … we take care of the most vulnerable people in society with the programs that we have, we protect public safety.

“But there’s one thing governments can’t do. Governments can’t love. Only people can.

“And that’s where the strength of our civil society comes in, when you have organizations like Catholic Charities that get involved to take care of and love our fellow citizens,” the governor said.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony and comments, Archbishop George J. Lucas gave his blessing to people in attendance and blessed the entire facility. Attendees also toured the building and enjoyed refreshments.

Archbishop George J. Lucas extends a blessing to people attending the ceremony. MIKE MAY/STAFF

The event was something of a capstone for Father Eckley, as he leaves to become pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, replacing Father Tom Bauwens, who is taking a medical leave of absence. Father Eckley is being replaced by Denise Bartels, formerly associate executive director.

“It has been a great humbling and honor to have served as executive director these last couple years to help lead the agency that was there for my family, and I want to ensure that it’s going to be there for families into the future,” Father Eckley said during his presentation.

In comments following the ceremony, he added his thanks to donors, the community and God’s grace for helping make the new facility a reality “so that we can continue to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need.”

“As I prepare to transition to a new assignment it is good to see this come to completion, and knowing that Catholic Charities is on a strong footing for the future,” he said.

 

A HISTORY OF SERVICE

For more than 96 years, Catholic Charities of Omaha has served individuals and families regardless of race, religion, creed or socioeconomic status throughout the Archdiocese of Omaha.

The organization’s programs include Behavioral Health Services, Family Strengthening Services, Immigration Legal Services, Domestic Violence Services – including the only dedicated domestic violence shelter in Douglas County – Emergency and Supportive Food Services, and Microbusiness and Asset Development Program for individuals and families throughout the 23 counties of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Over the past 12 months, Catholic Charities served more than 300,000 Nebraskans and distributed more than 2.8 million pounds of food.