The History of Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services History – Timeline

  • 1797 – In response to the Yellow Fever epidemic, Catholic laity from the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Women’s League established St. John’s Orphan Asylum for Boys and St. Joseph’s Asylum for Girls
  • 1807 – Society of St. Joseph for Poor Orphan Children incorporated
  • 1814 – Sisters of Charity, led by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, assume administration of St. Joseph’s Asylum for Girls
  • 1855 – St. Vincent’s Home, Tacony established with help of Bishop St. John Neumann, supported by funds from the Drexel family; first staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame
  • 1865 – Catholic Home for Destitute Children legally incorporated, with separate facilities for boys and girls, under the care of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia
  • 1888 – St. Joseph’s House for Homeless Industrious Boys founded by Holy Ghost Fathers and staffed by Immaculate Heart Sisters (now located in Bensalem and named St. Francis & St. Vincent Homes for Children)
  • 1889 – St. Francis Industrial School established by the De LaSalle Christian Brothers in Eddington for adolescent boys graduating from St. John’s Orphan Asylum (now St. Francis & St. Vincent Homes for Children)
  • 1895 – Philadelphia Protectory for Boys founded in Audubon, Montgomery County and staffed by the De LaSalle Christian Brothers; (now known as St. Gabriel’s Hall)
  • 1912 – Catholic Charities Office created in Philadelphia
  • 1916 – St. Edmond’s Home for Children established in W. Phila. to care for children crippled by polio (moved to Rosemont, PA in 1956)
  • 1919 – Catholic Children’s Bureau of Philadelphia incorporated, became CSS Foster Care Services
  • 1920 – Trinitarian Sisters staff  “The Home Finding Department” which became CSS Adoption Services
  • 1948 – St. Mary Hall established in Elverson, PA by Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence to care for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (moved to Springfield in 1984, now called Divine Providence Village)
  • 1950 – First county offices established to bring counseling and emergency services closer to point of contact with clients
  • 1954 – Casa del Carmen opened to serve the growing Latino population of North Philadelphia
  • 1955 – Agency charter amended to form Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • 1958 – Catholic Charities Appeal established as annual Archdiocesan campaign to financially support social services
  • 1960 – Don Guanella School opened in Springfield, Delaware County by the Servants of Charity to serve young men and boys with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • 1963 – St. John’s Hospice opens to provide short-term shelter and hot meals service to homeless men
  • 1964 – Catholic Children’s Bureau renamed Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • 1967 – Star Harbor Senior Community Center opened to provide meals and socialization for older adults; three other centers opened in different neighborhoods of Philadelphia in the 1970s
  • 1968 – St. Gabriel’s System formed in response to juvenile justice reforms aimed at community-based services
  • 1970’s – youth residential care facilities move from campus facilities to community-based group homes
  • 1972 – St. Gabriel’s System established first day treatment program at De LaSalle in Towne
  • 1973 – Nutritional Development Services established to facilitate school lunch and after-school nutrition programs
  • 1974 – De LaSalle Vocational opens in Bensalem, Bucks County to offer court-adjudicated youth trade skills
  • 1974 – Parish Social Ministry coordinates parish volunteer activity with professional social services of CSS
  • 1976 – Cardinal Krol Center opens at Don Guanella Village complex, to serve adult men with intellectual disabilities
  • 1976 – Mercy Hospice opened as shelter for homeless women, most suffering from mental health issues
  • 1976 – Refugee Services established to respond to influx of Southeast Asian newcomers
  • 1980’s – Community Living Arrangements (CLSs) established for high-functioning persons with intellectual disabilities
  • 1985/1988 – Women of Hope, Vine and Lombard founded to serve homeless women with mental health needs
  • 1987 – Secretariat for Catholic Human Services established to unify administration of Catholic Social Services, Catholic Health Care Services, and Nutritional Development Services
  • 1990’s – Services to Children in their Own Homes (SCH) established to facilitate family preservation
  • 1991 – DelStar Program established by St. Gabe’s System to treat juvenile sex offenders
  • 1995, 1998 – Good Shepherd Program and McAuley House established to serve medically fragile men and women
  • 1998 – St. Vincent’s Services for Women and Children open group homes for adolescent mothers and their babies
  • 1998 – Casa del Carmen opens low-cost day care, now a Star-4 quality preschool program called Casa Academy
  • 1998 – Brother Rousseau Academy established for younger first-time juvenile offenders; Mitchell Program established in Audubon as short-term residential and educational program with agricultural focus
  • 1999 – Casa Carmen Aponte opens to provide affordable senior housing in Norris Square area of Philadelphia
  • 2003 – St. Vincent’s, Tacony shifts focus to care for dependent teen girls, with Mother-Baby and Maternity programs
  • 2003 – Visitation Homes established to provide transitional housing for formerly homeless women and children
  • 2003 – St. Monica Eldercare Program launched to provide in-home supportive care to seniors in South Philadelphia
  • 2003 – Cardinal Bevilacqua Community Center established in Kensington to meet social, educational and recreational needs of challenged neighborhood; (now administered by local parish, known as Community Center at Visitation)
  • 2006 – Five Beacon afterschool programs established, now called Out of School Time Programs in multiple locations to provide free or low-cost academic and cultural enrichment to children in challenged neighborhoods
  • 2008 – St. John Neumann Place opens to provide affordable senior housing in former South Philadelphia high school
  • 2013 – Catholic Community Services designated a “Community Umbrella Organization” to provide in-home child welfare and prevention services for Northeast Philadelphia region
  • 2013 – In-Home Support Program opens in South Philadelphia in partnership with Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
  • 2014 – Operating Base Cecilia opened with partner Veterans Multi-Service Center to support homeless veterans
  • 2014 to 2016 – Parish Eldercare Programs open in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester Counties and NE Phila.
  • 2015 – Don Guanella Village campus closes, with IDD resident men moving to a dozen community group homes, and Day Programs for persons with intellectual disabilities moving to former Our Lady of Fatima parish school in Secane
  • 2015 – Nativity BVM Place opens in former Catholic grade school offering affordable senior housing in Port Richmond
  • 2015 – CHCS launches St. Mary Medical Center Collaborative to provide in-home supports after hospital discharge
  • 2016 – Cardinal Krol Mini-campus built in Springfield with 3 cottages to serve IDD men with complex medical needs
  • 2016 – Refugee Resettlement Program re-established to facilitate housing and supportive services to refugee families
  • 2016 – Catholic Housing & Community Services is established to reflect new strategic direction for services to seniors
  • 2016 – St. Francis Villa built to provide affordable senior housing in Kensington section of North Philadelphia
  • 2017 – St. John Neumann Place II built to provide affordable senior housing and wellness center in South Philadelphia
  • 2018 – Transitional Foster Care Program established to care for unaccompanied children entering the U.S.
  • 2018 – Dignity of Work Program established to provide assistance to victims of human trafficking