Longtime supporters came to mark the transition. Joanna Kreitzberg, Richard Kreitzberg, CCS chief Jim Seymour, Joanne Paxton George and Sr. Dorothy Jean Beyer gather at the St. Joseph Shelter transfer ceremony dinner. (Courtesy Catholic Community Services)

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Longtime supporters came to mark the transition. Joanna Kreitzberg, Richard Kreitzberg, CCS chief Jim Seymour, Joanne Paxton George and Sr. Dorothy Jean Beyer gather at the St. Joseph Shelter transfer ceremony dinner. (Courtesy Catholic Community Services) ?
MOUNT ANGEL — Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley and Central Coast has stepped in to help the Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel sustain outreach ministries to low-income people.

On Dec. 6 at Queen of Angels Monastery, the sisters and the agency celebrated their partnership to keep up St. Joseph Shelter, Mission Benedict and Casa Adele. The day included a tour of the shelter, founded by the nuns. Then came a transfer ceremony and a dinner.

Previously administered under a management agreement between the two organizations, the ministries now operate as programs of Catholic Community Services sustained in partnership with the sisters.

In the presence of community partners and long-time supporters, the sisters told the story of St. Joseph Shelter. Then, in a symbol of passing the light, a candle went from one group — Holy Names Sister Jane Hibbard, the Benedictines’ pastoral administrator; Benedictine Father Philip Waibel, pastor of St. Mary Parish; and Benedictine Father Vincent Trujillo, prior of Mount Angel Abbey — to another group — Catholic Community Services board members Scott Wiegal, Maria Palacio and Lynda Harrington.

“We consider it a solemn responsibility, an honor and a joy to serve this community with you, with your blessing, guidance and prayers that have sustained these ministries for nearly 30 years,” said Harrington, president of the board.

The Benedictine Sisters established St. Joseph Shelter in 1988. They call it a ministry of hospitality in response to the Gospel message of caring for those in need and honoring St. Benedict’s instruction to welcome all as Christ. The shelter and its companion programs, Mission Benedict and Casa Adele, provide meals, housing, clothing, advocacy, referrals, emergency assistance and a supportive community.

The sisters realized they could no longer sustain the ministry on their own. After exhaustive financial exploration, community research, and a year of management partnership, the sisters asked Catholic Community Services to assume responsibility for the shelter.

“Our deepest desire is for the ministry to continue,” said Sister Jane. “There is no better partner than CCS. Their mission flows out of our Benedictine ideals…to welcome all. We will continue to be present with our founding commitment.”

St. Joseph Shelter is the only shelter outside of Salem serving homeless families in the Mid-Willamette Valley. The demand for housing continues to increase because of a low inventory of affordable housing, the escalating home rental market, barriers to employment for families in crisis, and the increasing cost of living in the Pacific Northwest.

“Catholic Community Services operates with fidelity to the principles of Catholic social teaching, which call us to serve our neighbors who are the poorest and most vulnerable,” said Jim Seymour, the agency’s executive director.

“We are honored to sustain this ministry in partnership with the Benedictine Sisters,” Seymour said. “With their continued stewardship and with the help of community members who share their compassion for families facing adversity, we can walk alongside these families on a path toward hope and ultimately, self-sufficiency.”