President Trump just introduced to the nation his nominee for the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh then introduced the nation to someone perhaps a bit unexpected: Monsignor John Enzler. In a short and poignant speech that revealed Judge Kavanaugh’s biggest priorities, faith and family, he highlighted his mother and father, his wife and children, and the president and CEO of Catholic Charities D.C.
“I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area,” he said. “The members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united by a commitment to serve. Father John Enzler is here. Forty years ago, I was an altar boy for Father John. These days, I help him serve meals to the homeless at Catholic Charities.”
Judge Kavanaugh didn’t just highlight his faith, he got right to what his faith is truly about — service to others. And perhaps no other Catholic organization exemplifies that better than Catholic Charities. The local and national impact of Catholic Charities is staggering. Last year more than 6,800 men and women volunteered for Catholic Charities D.C. alongside Judge Kavanaugh. Regarded as the largest independent social service agency in the Washington, D.C., area, Catholic Charities D.C. estimates serving more than 142,000 men, women and children in and around the nation’s capital alone.
Judge Kavanaugh specifically volunteers with one of its sub-organizations, St. Maria’s Meals, a program that provides warm and nutritious meals to needy individuals and families. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, homeless men and women can find a meal and companionship outside Catholic Charities centers. And the organization’s Friday Breakfast Program, located in the parking lot of a local Baptist church in Silver Spring, Maryland, is an important start to the day for many day laborers. That such outreach as this happens beyond the premises of one of the Archdiocese’s parishes is consistent with the organization’s promise that “[o]ur doors are open to everyone regardless of race, religion, orientation or status.”
Catholic Charities offers a range of services in response to the varied needs of D.C. area residents. People struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges can find a bed, a shower and a hot meal at one of Catholic Charities’ many shelters. Access to such basic services helps people see the dignity of their own lives so they can take the first step toward reintegrating into their community.
For victims of domestic violence, a frequent cause of homelessness for women and their children, Catholic Charities sponsors transitional housing. For abused women, this is not only a safe haven from violence but also a place to heal emotionally and begin to plan a future without fear for themselves and their children. Catholic Charities has also partnered with the D.C. government to move families from shelters into short-term housing with the support of case workers to help the whole family get back on track.
Volunteers for Catholic Charities lend a hand by putting together care packages at home. These are then sent to men and women recently released from prison as they undertake a fresh start in life, while expectant and postpartum mothers are showered with baby necessities in celebration of their decision to choose life. And finally, as part of its immigration services program, Catholic Charities has responded to the growing number of unaccompanied minor children by calling on volunteers to contribute school and personal kits for children, complete with an accompanying welcome note.
When Pope Francis came to visit Washington, D.C., in September 2015, he observed that “[c]harity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to serve one another.” This call to charity is wonderfully responded to in the range of services provided by Catholic Charities.
Less than two days after his nomination to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh was again serving the hungry as a volunteer (a commitment Msgr. Enzler specifically remarked was made long ago). In highlighting the work of Catholic Charities, Judge Kavanaugh has already used his newfound celebrity to do a service to others. It gives us a taste of the kind of man he is, and reminds us all of one of the District’s most effective vehicles for helping one’s fellow man.
• Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with the Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal adviser for the Catholic Association Foundation.