A Brief History
St. Francis Community Services was established in July 2011 by uniting social service programs once operated directly by Catholic Charities of St. Louis. Although we are a relatively young organization, many of our individual programs can trace their roots back three decades or longer. Our Southside Center location began in 1983, initially serving a cluster of south city neighborhoods. With changing community demographics, and after a needs assessment in 1992, it focused its attention on serving Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking people across the region. Our Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry location was founded in 1987 as an initiative of the Archdiocese. At first providing representation in family law for those who could not afford an attorney, it quickly expanded its services into other areas to meet growing needs in the region. Today, staff attorneys at this site provide legal assistance in the areas of family law, immigration law, housing law, and veterans matters.
What’s in a Name?
Originally called “Catholic Charities Community Services,” the agency adopted the name of St. Francis in 2014. St. Francis of Assisi was chosen as a model because he embodies a selfless devotion to others; a simple way of life; and an unbounded love for the poor.
The name, too, reminds us of Pope Francis, who speaks boldly about the scourge of poverty and challenges us to accept, love, serve and advocate for marginalized people. “Poverty,” as Pope Francis wrote, “calls us to sow hope.” That, in essence, is our mission.
Today, St. Francis Community Services has a $2.5 million budget, 40 staff members, and four locations offering an array of services to vulnerable and marginalized people, from the unborn to the elderly. Last year, our organization served more than 3,900 clients. We reach out to the City of St. Louis and 10 surrounding counties. Although a Catholic agency, we assist people regardless of faith.