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2013 CCUSA Annual Gathering Opening Address

2013 CCUSA Annual Gathering Opening Address

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Opening address for the 2013 Annual Gathering, made by Father Larry Snyder on September 15, 2013.
Opening address for the 2013 Annual Gathering, made by Father Larry Snyder on September 15, 2013.

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Published by: Catholic Charities USA on Sep 19, 2013
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CCUSA 2013 ANNUAL GATHERING OPENING ADDRESSRev. Larry Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USASeptember 15, 2013Good morning! Let me offer my warmest welcome to all of you to the 2013CCUSA Annual Gathering. These
convening‟s
are for us a time of blessing as werenew friendships, tackle the pressing challenges of our time, learn and createtogether, and renew ourselves through common prayer.This year we are exceptionally fortunate to be meeting in the great city of SanFrancisco, home to an outstanding Catholic Charities organization. Their venerable history of service to the local community and impressive innovation inmeeting the needs of those most vulnerable today have made them importantleaders in our Catholic Charities movement. On behalf of all of us, let me say ahuge word of thanks for the tremendous hospitality they have already shown us,and that we can anticipate enjoying over the next couple of days.
Let‟s
show themour gratitude.San Francisco is a city full of iconic symbols that are recognizable the world over.Perhaps none more famous than the Golden Gate Bridge. Architect Joseph Strausswho built 400 bridges across the country throughout his career considered it his
 
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crowning achievement. Every day it carries over a hundred thousand vehiclesacross the Golden Gate, which is the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the
Pacific Ocean. Frommers Travel Guide calls it “possibly the most beautiful bridgein the world.” And it is the perfect backdrop for this year‟s conference as we
explore the urgency of building bridges to opportunity for all those in need.My friends, for over a century we have been about the work of reducing poverty.We have been providing critical safety net programs that for many are a means of survival. We have been charting pathways out of poverty for millions. And wehave been supporting and stabilizing families and individuals in crisis to keep themfrom falling into the grips of poverty. Every step of the way, we ourselves have been building bridges. Last year those bridges impacted the lives of nearly tenmillion people. And behind every individual that makes up that statistic is a face, aname, a story, a hope. Our work focuses on one individual, one family, one storyat a time, with the goal of providing the support they need to fulfill their God-given potential and bring to fruition their hopes and dreams.
But for a minute let‟s go back to Joseph Strauss‟s Golden Gate Bridge. Like manyof the major bridges across the country, it forms an integral part of our nation‟s
infrastructure and is vital to the economic and social health of our country. Whilethe Golden Gate Bridge was finished in 1937 after four years of construction,
much of the nation‟s infrastructure was built in the 1960‟s. As we have been
hearing for years, bridges built at that time are now showing the tremendous
 
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impact of decades of use. Much of that infrastructure has been deemed problematic and some as even downright dangerous. Our resources and planninghave simply not kept pace with the demand. But certainly neither Joseph Strauss,nor any of the engineers responsible for infrastructure development in the 1960swould have expected their work to remain untouched over 50 years later. It wouldhave been assumed that as needs developed over time, significant improvementswould be made.
As our nation‟s transportation infrastructure was bei
ng redesigned and expanded in
the 1960‟s, so too was the infrastructure of the country‟s social safety net. Fifty
years later similar signs of wear and neglect are proving problematic. A criticalcomponent of that infrastructure is the gauge by which we measure how manyAmericans actually live in poverty. That measure was developed by economistMollie Orshansky in 1963 using the best methods at her disposal. I suspect themost modern conveniences on her desk at the time were an adding machine andcarbon paper. Her design for a measure of poverty and the social infrastructure as
a whole served their time well. The War on Poverty of the „60s of which they
were a part actually cut the poverty rate in this country in half. But like so many of the bridges and train tracks and highways of that time, that social infrastructure nolonger meets the needs of our day. If we have any realistic hope of making
 progress in reducing our nation‟s poverty rate, we will need to do it with a design
and tools that address the needs and reality of our time.

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