The Archdiocese of Newark has long been known for its numerous and immense contributions of social services to its people and beyond, throughout the state of New Jersey. Catholic Community Services, which has evolved and grown over a century to become the comprehensive organization that it is today, is a primary source of this aid and assistance.
Serving the community has always been the cornerstone of the Catholic Community Services mission and tradition. It has a long history of reaching outside its walls to identify the needs of the community and develop services to meet those needs.
The organization traces its roots back to July 1903, when a group of lay Roman Catholics in the Newark Archdiocese founded the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of New Jersey, the predecessor of the current Family and Adoption Services program. This organization was noted as being the first Society for the prevention of cruelty to children established by a Catholic diocese for Catholic children in the United States, and the second to utilize the system of placing Catholic orphan children in private Catholic homes for the purpose of adoption.
In 1927, 15 orphanages collaborated with the Children’s Aid Society to form Associated Catholic Charities, which provided organized family services that included child welfare.
Mt. Carmel Guild
On Sept. 25, 1929, Bishop Thomas J. Walsh announced his intention to establish the Newark Mt. Carmel Guild, which he had organized back in 1911. The purpose of the Guild was two-fold: to assist public assistance recipients through spiritual, mental and physical relief, and to utilize the association’s own corps of Catholic women volunteers in the spirit of Christian charity. Twenty-six centers were organized throughout the Archdiocese; within a year, 35,000 volunteers were active in these centers.
At the height of the Great Depression, the Mount Carmel Guild Soup Kitchen was established in the basement of St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark to serve meals to people in need. Staffed by more than 168 volunteers and one paid worker, the soup kitchen closed in late 1941, after having prepared more than 1,632,000 meals. In the years that followed, the Guild distributed clothing, medicine, eyeglasses and orthopedic shoes to people in need.
In 1949, Bishop John J. McNulty, Moderator General of the Mt. Carmel Guild, established a program to address the needs of homeless, alcohol-addicted men in Newark. Located in a former warehouse on Plane Street (now University Avenue), the Mt. Carmel Social Service Center offered food, clothing, shelter and rehabilitation services to these individuals and operated a salvage and repair center.
The 1950’s marked the restructuring of the Guild to better address the needs of the community. In 1953, the agency concentrated its resources on three major service areas: special services, social services and the Apostolate. A substance abuse counseling program was established in 1956 to help individuals return to productive lives.
Boland Rehabilitation and Training Center
In 1958, the Archbishop Thomas A. Boland Rehabilitation and Training Center in Newark was established as a branch of the Mt. Carmel Guild. Located at 99 Central Ave. in Newark, the Boland Center offered vocational rehabilitation and occupational training services in daily living, home management, nurse’s aide, dietary aide, welding, maintenance/janitorial service and power sewing to eligible residents in the Newark Archdiocese.
Under the direction of Reverend Monsignor Joseph A. Dooling and Reverend Monsignor Francis LoBianco, St. Francis School, the second private school in the United States dedicated to special education, was established in Ridgefield Park in Sept. 1965.
Four years later, on Nov. 19, 1969, Monsignor Dooling dedicated the Mt. Carmel Guild Multi-Service Center at 17 Mulberry St., a modern complex bordering the Ironbound section of Newark.
The Mt. Carmel Guild Special Hospital, a 20-bed psychiatric unit for adults, opened in the Multi-Service Center in 1973. The following year, the first Archbishop’s Gala fundraiser was held at the Twombly Mansion in Madison.
Catholic Community Services (CCS)
In an effort to identify the various social service elements with the mission of the Newark Archdiocese, Archbishop Peter Gerety merged Associated Catholic Charities and the Mt. Carmel Guild to form Catholic Community Services (CCS) as a separate corporation in 1976; that same year, Reverend Monsignor Francis R. LoBianco was appointed as the executive director of Catholic Community Services.
Also in 1976, the Office of Migration was established to provide immigration assistance and refugee resettlement services to new arrivals in our country.
Responding to an influx of unaccompanied refugee minors in the years following the Vietnam War, CCS established the Project Haven program in 1980 to help these young people locate permanent foster homes. The decade also witnessed the resettlement of at least 10,000 Cuban and Haitian immigrants in the area.
In 1982, the Older American Kinship Center was established as the result of a collaborative effort of CCS, the Union County Division on Aging and the family of Frank and Anna Engel. In 1988, the program was renamed in recognition of the Engels’ support; in 2002, the Engel Center celebrated its 20th anniversary of operation.
CCS touches the lives of more than 100,000 individuals and families each year through more than 150 programs from 51 sites. As evidence of the agency’s ongoing commitment to quality, CCS has in recent years received accreditations or reaccreditations from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Mt. Carmel Guild continues to function under the auspices of CCS with programs and facilities including the Mental Health Initiative, Supported Employment Program and Mt. Carmel Hospital, all under the Mt. Carmel Guild Behavioral Healthcare System; Mt. Carmel Guild Children’s Center, Preschool (for “preschool disabled” 3-5 year-olds), and School (for 9-14 year-olds with behavioral and learning disabilities); and the Guild Social Services Center, which houses the Mt. Carmel Guild House for Alcoholic Men.
Although times have changed, many needs still remain. As we move further into the 21st century, CCS will continue to build on its 100-year legacy of providing help and creating hope for people in need.
Archbishop John J. Myers has said of the largest private social service agency in the state, “With a focus on supporting family and community, CCS daily meets an ever-broadening range of education, employment, respite, crisis intervention, medical and social challenges facing thousands of people in northern New Jersey. The staff of CCS does so with a solid commitment to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus.”
This history was submitted by Christina Crovetto, CCS Director of Communications.
Reprinted form The Catholic Advocate, Official Commemorative Edition, October 15, 2003.