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Catholic Charities North celebrates 100th birthday

From left, event committee members John Fisher, of Marblehead, Bruce MacDonald, of Lynn, and Debbie Caniff, of Swampscott, were joined by Catholic Charities Board Chairman Kevin MacKenzie in celebrating 100 years of Catholic Charities on the North Shore. (Paula Muller)

The months after World War I proved challenging to veterans and their families in Lynn, so Cardinal William O’Connell commissioned the Rev. John A. Sheridan, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Lynn, to establish an agency to assist area families with basic needs. The small volunteer agency that Father Sheridan started in 1919 is now the largest non-government social service agency on the North Shore. 

Catholic Charities North, which covers an area from Arlington to Gloucester, celebrated its 100th birthday last week with an event that recounted many of the good works that the charity has provided in the last century. From humble beginnings in the Sacred Heart rectory, CCN has grown to three community service centers (Lynn, Salem and Gloucester) and several other facilities, and has made a difference in thousands of lives on the North Shore.

“For the past 100 years Catholic Charities North has been functioning as a safety net in the community providing basic human needs, services and support to the most vulnerable on the North Shore of all faiths,” noted Catholic Charities Board Chairman Kevin MacKenzie. “As a result of their commitment and hard work, along with the generosity of many, they have made a tremendously positive impact in helping those most in need for the past century. Celebrating this milestone was a proud moment for Catholic Charities.”

The agency hosts child care for more than 480 children, teaches English as a Second Language courses to more than 300 immigrants and refugees, assists 200 first-time parents with home visiting programs, and provides mental health and family consulting for more than 600 people. It also runs the largest food distribution program in Lynn. In 2018 more than 4,200 families benefited from CCN’s innovative mobile food pantry.  

Catholic Charities is constantly adapting to the needs of the communities we serve,” said Fran Troutman, director of Catholic Charities North. “Our English classes have expanded over the last five years to meet the needs of immigrants and refugees to more fully assimilate into our community. Our goal is to be a vital and responsive agency, collaborating with others to solve community problems and to uplift community members who need a helping hand.”

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