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Omaha to Host 2015 Catholic Charities USA Annual Gathering Featuring Leading Hope Researcher, Catholic Relief Services CEO

Media Contact: Cailan Franz

Omaha to Host 2015 Catholic Charities USA Annual Gathering Featuring
Leading Hope Researcher, Catholic Relief Services CEO

Three-day conference will focus on “Harvesting Hope in the Heartland,” living out Pope Francis’ call to strengthen families

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), whose members helped more than nine million individuals in need on their journey out of poverty last year, announced today that Dr. Shane Lopez, author of “Making Hope Happen,” and Dr. Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, will serve as keynote speakers at CCUSA’s 2015 Annual Gathering September 10-12 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“This is the first CCUSA Annual Gathering we have hosted since 1932, and it will bring over 400 people from all over the country to Omaha,” said John J. Griffith, Catholic Charities Omaha executive director. “What started as an organization to place children into loving, adoptive families has changed incredibly over the last eight decades to reflect the needs of our community. Today our focus is on reducing poverty though food assistance, behavioral health services, sheltering battered women, educating our youth and more. Our dedication to sharing Christ’s love in offering hope and healing to our most vulnerable neighbors has remained the focus of all that we do. We are excited for the opportunity to welcome our colleagues to Omaha."

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, president and CEO of CCUSA will deliver her first address as president of CCUSA to the network to open the session on Thursday, September 10. She will be followed by Dr. Lopez, a senior scientist at Gallup, Inc., and one of the world’s leading researchers on the power of hope. Dr. Woo, who has served as president since 2012 of Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, will deliver the closing address on Saturday, September 12.

“As our nation prepares to welcome Pope Francis this September, the Catholic Charities network is eager to engage in substantive discussions concerning support to families in need. Certainly these crucial conversations will continue throughout the Annual Gathering, the Holy Father’s visit and beyond,” said Sister Markham. “The Gathering is a wonderful opportunity for our members to share best practices as well as to honor persons who have helped so many who struggle in the face of poverty to reclaim hope and dignity.”

The three-day event will also include interactive workshops and institutes that focus on topics such as Food Access, Poverty Reduction, Financial Empowerment and Veterans’ Services. A special highlight of the national conference will include a performance on the life of Monsignor John O’Grady, the founder of Catholic Charities, on Friday, September 11. Msgr. O’Grady started his career in Omaha as a pastor at St. Bridget’s and St. Cecelia’s before beginning his work with Catholic Charities.

Additional information about this year’s Annual Gathering can be found by visiting:

About Catholic Charities of Omaha
Catholic Charities ministers to the greatest and most fundamental needs of our community. People affected by domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, unplanned pregnancy and other emergency situations can find sanctuary in times of overwhelming hardship, while opening doors for promising futures. Catholic Charities has a rich tradition of serving and advocating for more than 100,000 voiceless, hungry, addicted, abused and forgotten individuals and families annually throughout the Archdiocese of Omaha. For more information on Catholic Charities, visit

About Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the national office for Catholic Charities agencies nationwide. Catholic Charities USA’s members provide help and create hope to more than 9 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. To learn more about CCUSA, please visit our website at