Cardinal Cupich dedicates Catholic Charities peace center, garden in Austin

May 31, 2018
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Cardinal Cupich (center) and Monsignor Boland speak with Austin resident Raquel Brown. | Karen Callaway

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Monsignor Michael Boland, president of Catholic Charities, dedicated the new Father Augustus Tolton Peace Center at 5645 W. Corcoran Place last week.

The May 24th event unveiled the center, which is a social services resource and “peace hub” for violence prevention and trauma therapy programs.

“The Father Augustus Tolton Peace Center continues the legacy of its namesake who worked tirelessly for the poor and underserved to make his community stronger,” Boland said. “We welcome Austin residents to visit the center and receive the compassionate care, assistance and comfort they need and deserve.”

The 46,000 square-foot building and 51,000 square-foot site were gifts from the Austin Bank Corp. Catholic Charities began offering programs at the center in December and has seen a steady increase in the number of clients and has expanded its services to meet their needs.

The 17,000 square-foot Peace Garden, located adjacent to the center, is Catholic Charities’ gift to the Austin community and includes a moving sculpture by artist Timothy Schmalz titled “Thou Shall Not Kill” that depicts Jesus weeping over a gunshot victim.

Cardinal Blase Cupich blessing the Thou Shall Not Kill sculpture by Timothy Schmalz | Karen Callaway


“We know that violence will not end in our society without a concerted effort to address its root causes,” Cupich said. “At this center and throughout its network, Catholic Charities works to strengthen families, lift people out of poverty, and help them develop life and employment skills. These ministries are our response to the Gospel call to show mercy and compassion to all we meet.”

More than 30,000 Austin residents are supported by Catholic Charities’ various services. The center will deepen and expand Catholic Charities’ impact in Austin with more services for youth, families and seniors with a focus on building peaceful communities.

In addition to violence prevention and therapy programs, residents will benefit from dozens of additional services at the center, including financial assistance and counseling, public screening assistance, youth employment, pregnancy and parenting assistance, summer meals for children and elder care support.

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