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The Greatest Blessing

adoptive family

Read the new article by adoptive parents Brian and Jessie published in The Courier:

The Greatest Blessing

It was surprising and devastating to learn I would not be able to get pregnant. Through reflection with my husband we came to the question – “Do I want to be pregnant? Or, do I want to be a mother?” The easy answer for both of us was that we wanted to be parents, and adoption was the answer. … Our adoption experience was and is everything wonderful you can imagine! Our son is healthy and full of so much happiness. We did fall in love with him from the moment we met him. I think the most surprising part of our adoption story for both my husband and I is our feelings toward our son’s birth mother. We can admit that in the beginning we did not want an open adoption. We felt threatened…

Read the full article

November 14th, 2018|Categories: News & Announcements|

MediAppS (Medication Application Service) Caseworker

CATHOLIC CHARITIES of Southern Minnesota has an opening in its Winona office for a part-time (20 to 24 hours per week) MediAppS Caseworker. MediAppS helps low income people lacking medical insurance secure needed prescription medications at no cost from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them.

The MediAppS Caseworker markets the program, coordinates services, and works with local health professionals in preparing medication assistance applications. The successful candidate must possess a real passion for helping others and have experience using Microsoft Office software. The successful candidate will also be detail oriented, organized, able to work independently, to take initiative, and to work with clients in a manner that promotes their dignity and sense of self-worth.

Please email resume and cover letter, to rtereba@ccsomn.org. Please respond by November 28, 2018.

Now Hiring – Guardian/Conservator Program Director

Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota is looking for a full-time Guardian/Conservator Program Director in its Winona office.  In this program, Catholic Charities serves as the court-appointed guardian/conservator to manage the personal and/or financial affairs of adults who can no longer do this for themselves.  The Director manages program staff, reviews and approves the ongoing assessment and overall case management of program clients, provides direct services to clients as necessary, and monitors the program’s procedures, policies, and effectiveness.  The Director is also responsible for program design and development activities.

Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work or related human service field and a minimum of four years of work experience with vulnerable adults including those with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and dementia.

Qualified applicants may apply by sending a resume and cover letter to:  Catholic Charities, Attn:  Robert Tereba, PO Box 379, Winona, MN 55987 or email: rtereba@ccsomn.org.

Application deadlins is November 26, 2018.

November 6th, 2018|Categories: Employment, News & Announcements|



October 28, 2018

As I consider the past week in America I am reflecting on a passage a dear friend brought to my attention last year at this time. It touched me deeply as I was sitting in a hospital chapel pew trying to understand a deep loss and mourning the death of my brother. I felt broken-hearted. Those words come to life within me this weekend as I hold dear all those who have experienced heartbreak—especially the heartache that results from a lack of compassion.

We live in a broken world.

The contemporary and wise Jewish prophet, Robert Zimmerman, once detailed the list of things that were broken:

“Everything is Broken”, he said. Broken bottles, broken plates, broken switches, broken gates. Broken dishes, broken parts, streets are filled with broken hearts, broken words, never meant to be spoken, everything is broken. Broken bodies, broken bones, broken voices on broken phones. Take a deep breath; feel like you’re choking—everything is broken. Broken treaties, broken vows, broken hands on broken plows. Broken pipes, broken tools, and people bending broken rules. Everything is broken.

Bob Dylan sang those words on an album appropriately entitled, O Mercy! We live in a broken society which exists in a broken world, which is part of our broken human condition. Everything is broken. Lord, Have Mercy!

After a particularly gut-wrenching week—I am back in that hospital chapel pew trying to understand the deep loss in our country this week. I am searching for answers. I feel broken-hearted.

Lord bless the broken-hearted! Open our hearts and minds that we may embrace a spirit of compassion and tolerance; following your example—one that embraced all regardless of age, gender, faith tradition, or ethnic background.

Mary Alessio~Reflection by:
Mary Alessio–Director of Advancement

(Special thanks to my dear friend Jose’ who lifted me up last year with his words)

October 28th, 2018|Categories: News & Announcements|

Making My Dad Proud—A Veteran’s Story

Photo of men in uniformby Mary Alessio

A brisk winter chill is in the air and I am thinking of my Dad. I remember vividly an autumn evening when I was four years old and had just cuddled under my pink and white blanket. My eyes were shut and I was just beginning to drift off when I heard the creak of the wooden floor, as my parents walked through my bedroom door.

It was routine for my parents to “tuck us in” and before I had the chance to open my eyes, I heard my father’s whisper, “Doesn’t she have the most perfect ears you’ve ever seen? Look at those tiny, perfect ears.” Needless to say, I kept my eyes shut and relished in the thought that my Dad was proud of me. I had the sweetest dreams that night, secured in my parents’ love.

Years have passed and times have changed, but something always remained constant: my Dad’s love and my desire to make him proud of me. Dad was an only child and friends teased him regarding the irony of raising seven children (six boys and one girl). He served in the Army, Navy and Air Force, and was proud of this country and defended our liberties with passion. He was awarded the Purple Heart and meritorious Air Medal for bravery. I remember my Mom telling us how difficult the war was for him and that, upon his return from duty, his mental and emotional well-being were challenged beyond measure.

My Dad was sharp-witted, strong and had an Irish humor that my Mom always said would charm the snakes out of Ireland. Although he certainly could have been a great executive, he needed the openness of the outdoors to lift his spirits. Therefore, he became an ironworker upon his return from service to his country.

By many of his colleagues, he was considered to be the best ironworker in the United States considering he helped build some of the world famous skyscrapers in Chicago. I, on the other hand, felt it was because he had the same integrity on the job, as he did at home. While many are aware of rough language on job sites, I don’t think I ever heard my Dad use profanity. And despite the fact he went to war, he loathed fighting and was a peacemaker by nature. It was a juggling act getting all of us to mass each Sunday, but I don’t ever remember my Dad missing Sunday mass.

My Dad died before I started working with refugees. I often wonder what my Dad would think about my profession given the mixed emotions refugee care evokes in our country. There are many who would question the issue of caring for refugees at a time when citizens of this country are facing difficult times. I wonder if Dad would be proud of my efforts.

Dad was a straight-shooter. He expected us to respect people of all cultures. I know that because he put his words into practice. He devoted many years of his life to defending this country and the people blessed to live here. But, in doing so, he also defended the rights of others around the world. My Dad was a foreman and he told us stories of men of various backgrounds applying for jobs and his support of their endeavors. His beliefs were not always mutually accepted by his peers. Yet, he remembered the struggle his parents had coming to this country and felt everyone deserved a chance. He expected all his men, regardless of country of birth, to give their best effort and be dedicated to their work. Dad didn’t expect perfection, but he did expect perfect effort.

My toughest presentation was one I gave to the Kiwanis in Rochester, Minnesota. Most of you know this group is similar to a fraternity, composed of men the age of my father. I remember the day of my presentation to the group like it was yesterday. I looked out into the audience and saw dozens of fathers sitting with folded arms, looking intently at me. This was going to be a tough crowd. I saw my Dad’s face as I looked at each and every one of them.

When I finished, these fathers did not leave the room quietly. They gave me the toughest Q&A I ever experienced. We reminisced about World War II and the other wars these men had left loved ones behind, in order to defend our rights and liberty. They were concerned that refugees may be taking jobs from their grandchildren. I told them of the obstacles a refugee incurs when seeking employment (lacking job history, fluency, and competing with many who know the ropes). I said if refugees overcome these obstacles and devote every spare minute to learning English, they have the right to apply. I said if your grandchild is the best candidate, that is who should get the job. If a refugee is the better candidate, he or she deserves the opportunity.

We talked about our relatives and the various countries that were represented in the room. For the most part, we talked about my Dad and the similarities I saw in all of them. I told them that, as director, I did not take my job responsibilities lightly, and that I felt I was equally responsible to them and this community. We spoke about a document I created recently entitled “Rights and Responsibilities” that each refugee signs upon arrival. This was created to ensure the refugee understands that with rights come responsibilities in this country. It begins the resettlement relationship here with a feeling of mutual respect. We spoke of my theory that refugees who are connected with their community through volunteerism not only begin to cherish their new homeland, but also realize the importance of “giving back.”

We talked about family and their definition of that word. I told them when I was little I thought it just meant my mom, dad, brothers, and me. As I grew, the definition broadened to include my neighbors, classmates, town, country and, now, a world of people. I told them there was always an extra plate at our dining table when I was little. It was for anyone that may be in need of a meal. All felt welcome at my parents’ table and made to feel part of our family.

When I finished my presentation, a man approached the table and I froze a bit thinking I must have said something that struck a core. His eyes looked serious and his stance was firm and determined. He reached into his pocket, opened my hand, and stuck a $100.00 bill in it. He said, “Your Dad would be proud of you! Go use this to take care of those arriving in need.” Today is the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I talk to my Dad often and I ask him to guide me in the work I do. I take comfort in knowing some things remain constant—my Dad’s love and my desire to make him proud of me.

Mary AlessioSubmitted by: Mary Alessio/Director of Advancement/Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota. Mary was the past Director of Refugee Resettlement. She wrote this article in 2015—it still makes us stop and reflect on making good choices and sends a powerful message of compassion for all.

October 28th, 2018|Categories: News & Announcements|