Catholic Charities Counseling & Adoption Services


Our Mission & History

Faithful to Christ’s mission of love, Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services is a non-profit organization serving communities throughout the Catholic Diocese of Erie. Our mission is to provide professional counseling and adoption services and other programs that educate, affirm, and support individuals of all faiths to achieve their fullest human potential.

Catholic Social Services was founded on December 24, 1953 as a family casework agency, its mission was to "offer social services of a professional nature to the residents of the Diocese of Erie."

Sr. Marie Baptiste DeGroat and Sr. Kathleen Kirsch left for Catholic University to study social work. Three years later, armed with new MSW degrees, they opened the doors at 1926 West Sixth Street in an office located in what was then St. Joseph's Home for Children. The agency began by continuing the work already begun under the Diocesan Department of Charities. With no formal programs, the staff "did" counseling, adoptions, and distributed food vouchers for redemption at local grocery stores.

Under the guidance of Sr. Marie Baptiste, Director, Catholic Social Services became an accredited social service agency licensed by the Department of Public Welfare of the State of Pennsylvania. An advisory board was established in 1957 and a philosophy formed. The new Board met for the first time on November 18, 1957. Between 1958 and 1962, this full-service agency received 80 percent of its funding from the United Way and 20 percent from the Erie Diocese. Sister Marie Baptiste remained the Director for eleven years, until 1967, when she was elected General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Shortly before Sr. Marie Baptiste's election, the name of the Agency was officially changed. What had begun as "Catholic Charities" became on August 14, 1967, "Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Erie, Inc.". The primary objective of the newly named agency was "to help families and individuals with their problems in the areas of parent-child relationships, marital relationships, and individual personality problems." Service was also given "to unmarried parents, to families seeking to adopt children, and to families requesting placement of children..." The Agency also gave "emergency financial assistance, with the approval of one's pastor, to families ineligible for assistance from other community resources."

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New Directions

On December 18, 1967, the Advisory Board of Catholic Social Services appointed Mr. Raymond J. Micco to succeed Sr. Marie Baptiste as the Agency's supervisor. A major consideration affecting the Agency at this time was its location within St. Joseph's Home for Children. During the summer of 1968 and continuing for the next two years, the Advisory Board devoted a major portion of its effort to discussions of how best to use St. Joseph's Home. With costs rising from $2.50 per day per child in the mid 60's to $13.63 in 1969, it was clear that something had to be done. In 1969, an independent evaluation by the United Fund indicated the Home was superfluous in Erie County. On November 1, 1970, when the Home was officially closed, Catholic Social Services moved to its present location at 329 West 10th Street.

The Agency continued to expand its formal programs. Although international adoptions had occurred since 1958 (primarily from Ireland, Italy and Germany but also some from China, Newfoundland and Lebanon), in February 1960, the Board approved a program to begin finding homes for Asian children. In addition, the Agency had also approved its first single parent adoption.


In addition, 1973 saw the beginning of the Agency's Emergency Pregnancy Service. This service was the result of a request by Bishop Watson who asked the Agency to respond in a positive manner to the United States Supreme Court's decision on abortion. Between 1973 and 1988, over 8,000 people used the service. In 1968, Catholic Social Services had hired Sr. Teresa Marie Bohren, ACSW, and in April 1973, the Advisory Board had made her Supervisor. By 1979 when the Agency's finances seemed critical, Sr. Teresa Marie was named Director.

The financial problems of the 70's and 80's did not deter the Agency from finding new ways to serve its mission.

Between 1975 and 1976, over 163 Vietnamese orphans were placed or served in some manner. And over 300 Southeast Asian refugees were assisted by Catholic Social Services. By 1980, Catholic Social Services was one of eleven groups contractually related to the U.S. Catholic Conference's Refugee Resettlement Program aiding refugees from Cuba and Southeast Asia.


CCCAS has main offices in Erie and Dubois, with several more contributing offices throughout the Erie Catholic Diocese (13 counties). The majority of our funding comes from program fees/reimbursements, financial support from the Erie Diocese, agencies such as United Way, as well as resources from generous grants, gifts, and donations.

The future for CCCAS remains positive. We continually strive to provide our communities with the services that are needed in a caring and compassionate manner that befits our Catholic beliefs. To paraphrase Cardinal Hickey, “We don’t serve people because THEY are Catholic, we do it because WE are”.