|Colorado Catholic Charities CEO to head bishops' domestic policy office|
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Mark Rohlena, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, has been named director of the Office of Domestic Social Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, effective in August.
Catholic News ServiceWASHINGTON — Mark Rohlena, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, has been named director of the Office of Domestic Social Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, effective in August.
He will oversee USCCB efforts in the area of domestic social development, with a special emphasis on poverty.
Rohlena succeeds Kathy Saile, who left the USCCB in December to become associate director for government affairs at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.
Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB general secretary, announced the appointment June 16.
"Mark Rohlena has a proven track record as a leader and manager in putting the church's social teaching into action," he said in a statement. "Mark has a heart for the poor and vulnerable and a critical understanding of the way public policy impacts the church's ground-level, charitable work."
He added that Rohlena is well-formed in the faith, and especially Catholic social teaching, which has inspired his strong commitment to service, leaving a successful career at a large law firm to advocate for those most in need."
Before his work as head of Central Colorado Catholic Charities, Rohlena was the senior ethics and conflicts attorney for Holland & Hart in Denver. His work at the firm included legal ethics, employee benefits law, labor and employment law, and state and local tax law.
As head of the Colorado Springs agency, Rohlena has overseen the organization's annual budget of $3 million and 50 employees, who serve in 10 counties of Colorado with the help of more than 1,600 volunteers per month.
Services include poverty reduction programs, parish social ministry, family immigration services, adoption services and disaster relief work. The organization played an important leadership role in assisting those affected by last year's wildfires in Colorado.
"It is with mixed emotions that I leave Catholic Charities, our extended family, and our Colorado community, but after much discernment, my family and I believe this is where we are called to serve," Rohlena said.
At Catholic Charities, Rohlena also initiated programs for young adults to address the challenge of homelessness and served on the boards of the Catholic Housing Corporation and Partners in Housing of Colorado Springs.
Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs praised Rohlena for his work with the agency, describing him as "someone who has left his mark" on the organization.
"We are going to miss him, but we wish him well and know he will do amazing work in his new position with the USCCB," the bishop said in a statement.
A Seattle-area native, Rohlena attended Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. He earned his law degree at Ave Maria School of Law, at that time in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (It was relocated to Naples, Florida, in 2009.)
While living and working in Denver, he began volunteering for Catholic Charities in the Denver Archdiocese, working in legal aid and other initiatives to alleviate poverty. He was a founding member of the Lighthouse Women's Center, a licensed medical center that provides pregnancy counseling.
In a statement about his new position, Rohlena said that he appreciated the opportunity to be a voice for the poor on the national level.
"The church has been and must continue to be among the strongest voices in the public square on behalf of the poor, sick, the weak and the suffering," he said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of that legacy, to join the work of urging federal policymakers to recognize that each and every one of our neighbors is filled with dignity -- worthy to be encountered, loved and cared for."
Working at the USCCB in Washington "is a unique way to witness to the love of Christ, which, as Pope Francis reminds us, lies at the heart of our charitable work."
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