The Locks of Compassion display has
moved indoors for your viewing pleasure.
(Mayo Civic Building – Rochester)

This beautiful piece of art; created by both residents
and visitors from around the globe represents all
ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and faith traditions.

Each decorated lock expresses the compassion of the
individual and the desire that a spirit of hope ripples
across our nation and world.  We encourage you to
share photos of lock creations and your experiences
at the display on social media.

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Considering a lock is often defined as a device that restricts access and confines, you may wonder how it could possibly be associated with compassion. But, did you know a lock can also be a symbol of promise, enduring friendship and love? A lock links and unites one to another.

In many parts of the world “love locks” attached to bridges and even metal trees have expressed uniting one to another. The “Locks of Compassion” project will re-create that symbolic expression of unity in our community this summer by embracing a spirit of compassion!  Locks decorated with signs, symbols, and words expressing compassion will be prominently displayed on the “Locks of Compassion” community display in Rochester’s Peace Plaza.  I have personally witnessed the transforming power of compassion in the lives of the poor and marginalized I’ve served. With a gift of $10 you will be provided a lock package to decorate with signs, symbols, and words of compassion. The gift of necklace with key and medallion is yours to keep as a reminder to spread your compassion—may your key open hearts!

A child recently asked me what it means to have compassion and I explained it in this way. Compassion is a feeling inside of us that says, “I care about others—especially those who suffer and feel sad. In my heart, I want to help them.” Compassion starts in the heart, but what if a decorated lock could express your compassion for a child in need, a homebound senior, a family member, a visitor to our community…and the hope it creates begins to ripple….

This initiative is being embraced by community and civic leaders as a “game changer.” Healthcare professionals in Rochester have expressed delight and support of an interactive display that visitors will see upon arriving to Rochester for care; a display that symbolizes the compassion embraced in this part of the world. We hope the Rochester community display will be a life-changing experience for residents and all those who visit Rochester, Minnesota. Enjoy creating your lock.  Compassion lives here…because of you!

While many of our children have joyful memories of chain link fences surrounding their school playgrounds and sports fields, I’ve seen refugee children arrive with vacant stares and fearful eyes. Their memories of chained fences involve being locked away from safety and joy. I am looking forward to creating my personal lock—a lock in honor of those I serve; one that will replace fear with compassion!

This is a life-changing project for all residents and visitors who come to our great city of Rochester—regardless of age, gender, ethnic background, or faith tradition. No matter where you come from or what you believe…we can all be united around a spirit of compassion!

(Mary Alessio-Director of Advancement/Catholic Charities)  

*For more details regarding the “Locks of Compassion” Project, read more here (project description) and Community Project Link here.

Locks of Compassion Flier

How to Make a Lock of Compassion

Remember to use waterproof sharpie markers!

Creating a Lock with a Child or Youth Group?
Children’s Version – How to Make a Lock of Compassion Flier

Your Gift Becomes the Key to Opportunity!

We serve refugees with a public/private partnership model. We are called to reach out to our community—brothers and sisters of all faiths to provide care and compassion for the refugee children we serve.  Government funding is per capita (dollars per individual served). There is an understanding that government funding alone would never be able to sustain a resettlement program that serves children and families.

Resettling refugees provides an extraordinary opportunity for countless Americans to take an active part in offering a caring and supportive environment for refugees as they begin new lives. Without volunteers and resources from the community and various faith based organizations, USCCB/MRS and the diocesan resettlement offices would be unable to accomplish the tremendous task of giving refugees new hope and the opportunity to begin again.

On average government provides 60% of the funding needed to operate our program.  The remaining 40% is made possible through the generosity of the people of southern Minnesota.  Together, these broad funding sources allow us to empower refugee families as they begin their lives anew in our community.

Shopping/Budgeting Orientation

Shopping/Budgeting Orientation

Refugee staff going above and beyond to tackle challenges with innovation …

  • Multiple home visits to help families trouble-shoot (i.e. individualized training – safety orientations, etc.)
  • Public library orientations
  • Hands on cultural orientations in the community and in classroom environment
  • One-on-one shopping orientations – shopping cart provided to each family
  • One-on-one bus orientations – bus pass provided to each adult
  • Personal Mayo Clinic medical orientations (campus tour, etc)
  • Connect newly arrived refugees with their individual faith communities
  • Assist with opening bank accounts, to promote asset building/banking education
  • Assist in accessing internet and a refurbished computer to ensure one’s ability to complete online job applications.
  • Applying for Energy Assistance and various other programs that will empower families
Financial Literacy Training

Financial Literacy Training

Independence and new beginnings take both dedication and innovation. At Catholic Charities we want to ensure our refugee children and families are not just surviving but thriving in their new home.  When we reach for excellence in resettlement families are not only on their way to self-sufficiency, but they are equipped with the skills to use their unique gifts to empower others in the future! Your gift helps create life-changing initiatives.

How Your Gift Becomes the Key to Opportunity/ Article in full PDF

Updates and Upcoming Events

  • Locks arriving in March 2017—start thinking of your lock design this Spring!—Would you like to donate a basket with  supplies for “Locks of Compassion”…  Supply list here.
  • WSU students from  multi-cultural class embracing  “Locks of Compassion” with a class outreach project this Spring.
  • Locks for decorating this Spring/Summer with your images of compassion arriving!  Leather straps for your necklace/wristband with key and medallion coming soon.

  • Long distance Compassion coming to Rochester – lock creation in Chicago!

  • Your individual lock packages for creation are ready for individual and group pick-up.  Various groups are busy creating locks for opening ceremony June 20th  in the Peace Plaza—Rochester, MN. Details forthcoming.
  • Lock packages will be available at a booth on “Thursdays on First” this summer starting June 22nd or available for purchase at Victoria’s Restaurant,  Tangerine Gifts, and Lasker Jewelers in downtown Rochester daily starting June 20th.
  • We needed donation boxes and Gramercy Park resident Bob Wiebold came to the rescue with compassion masterpieces!  Bob spent the entire month of April in the woodworking shop (and painting in his living room—thank you Mrs. Wiebold!).  He used  his artistic expertise to express what compassion means to him on donation boxes that will be used this summer for the “Locks of Compassion” Peace Plaza Project. Each box is a unique expression of Bob’s compassion. When asked what compassion means to him…Bob gazed intently into my eyes, “ I believe the love of God is all around us and our appreciation of that love, whether it is gazing at the beauty of a bird, a Minnesota lake, a friend’s face, a stranger’s surrounds us and all we need to do is embrace it.” I look forward to sharing more of Bob’s story with you in a future article. When I think of compassion – I see Bob’s face.  Check back in the upcoming weeks. Stop by and see Bob attach his “lock” of compassion along with other residents from Gramercy Park on June 20th!   ~Mary

  • Students from Winona State Multi-Cultural class (Rochester Campus)  embraced an outreach project to instill compassion within our community recently. Check out these remarkable creations that will be attached to the “Locks of Compassion” display on June 20th!

  • Grandma Knows Best!  When it comes to creating leather necklaces with a bow display for lock packages—Kristina’s grandma leads the way.  She is the best “bow tier” and as Kristina would testify…the best grandma!  Heartfelt thanks to Kristina’s grandma, mother, and aunt for all their hard work this week creating lock packages!

  • Teens embrace and express their compassion! Mary presented to the Confirmation class at Holy Spirit parish in Rochester this weekend. These teens lead the way with their unique locks of compassion—they inspire all to be that ripple of hope in our community.