Catholic Charities photo
Norma and Amado Barajas and son Lane of Woodburn realized their dream of home ownership after living in Catholic Charities housing in Canby and saving money.
Catholic Charities photo
Norma and Amado Barajas and son Lane of Woodburn realized their dream of home ownership after living in Catholic Charities housing in Canby and saving money.
Homeless. Distressed. Innocent.

That describes three Oregon Catholic parishioners Oregon who will be introduced through Catholic Charities' annual campaign, which begins May 5.

The campaign will urge parishioners to reflect on the story of the Good Samaritan and support Catholic Charities in light of the three clients: Mary, who was recently homeless; Nafy, a refugee; and Sophia, who was born to a teenage mother.

Mary spent more than a year living on the streets of Portland before coming to Catholic Charities Housing Transitions Program for help.

“I felt so defeated,” she says. “I was cold to my bones, my back was causing me terrible pain because a pin I had previously had placed in my spine had given out, and I had outworn my welcome sleeping on friends’ couches.”

Catholic Charities last moved Mary into her own apartment in North Portland. “I feel like the luckiest woman alive. I couldn’t be happier,” she said.

Nafy’s family recently fled rebel attacks in South Sudan and now lives in a Portland apartment provided through Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program. Nafy has been enrolled in extra classes outside of school to bring her up to speed with peers. She is shy, but recently confessed to a volunteer after-school teacher that she feels “very safe in the U.S. where it’s peaceful.”

Sophia, a three-year-old girl whose mother turned to Catholic Charities when she was pregnant, received diapers, formula and a place to live thanks to the agency's Pregnancy Support and Adoption Services.

“I was struggling to feed myself and the thought of taking care of Sophia too was more than I could bear at the time,” says Rachel, Sophia’s mom. “It’s hard to believe how quickly things turned around after I was given that initial ‘push’ of support.”

The experiences of the women don't encompass what Catholic Charities does for neighbors in need, but reflect good work that can come from small acts of kindness —like those of the Good Samaritan.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, listeners are asked to look at who their neighbors are and determine how to respond to needs. The Gospel appeals to listeners to recognize that one's neighbors include the stranger, the downtrodden and those who might be passed by.

“Catholic Charities exists to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ for our brothers and sisters in need, but we can’t do it alone,” says Pietro Ferrari, executive director of the agency. “I implore parishioners throughout the archdiocese to remember the Good Samaritan is you.”

The Annual Campaign is Catholic Charities' most important source of funds, and helps meet operation costs of its 25 social service programs, which serve people of all ages, races and beliefs. Services include pregnancy and parenting support, adoption, immigration legal representation, housing transitions for homeless, affordable housing, refugee resettlement, domestic violence victims’ assistance, ministry to the elderly, and relationship counseling, among others.

Ninety cents of every dollar contributed to Catholic Charities is directed to programs and services. The agency does not receive funds from the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal and is a separate legal entity.

Information on the Campaign has been mailed to homes throughout the Archdiocese of Portland, and a special second collection will be taken in all parishes May 5-6.

For more information or to contribute to the annual campaign, visit or call 503-688-2623.