What is the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Bethlehem Project?
The Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Bethlehem Project is a social ministry of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish in Greensburg that seeks to prevent homelessness in the central Westmoreland County area. Homelessness prevention is achieved by providing comprehensive resource information and referral services, education on tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, pastoral counseling, and limited financial support.
The Bethlehem Project began in 1998 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in response to the needs of the homeless and near homeless who were requesting help from the Cathedral for rent, utilities and emergency lodging.
In February of 2000, a partnership was formalized between Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg for intake and referral. This partnership has provided those in need with a single agency to call for help. This single point of entry ensures limited community resources are not duplicated.
The Advisory Board is made up of a diverse group of individuals who serve the project in developing long range goals and objectives. By-laws direct the activities of the Advisory Board, which include fundraising, public relations and legal education on housing issues.
To respond to the needs of the homeless and near homeless by
- Providing funds for emergency shelter or first month’s rent in collaboration with the County Housing Authority, the State Department of Welfare and other social service agencies.
- Assisting local shelters by providing needed items several times during the year.
- Making necessary referrals to other social service agencies.
- Educating the community on laws relating to housing, including the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
- Maintaining ongoing follow up when necessary with those served to encourage them in maintaining their goal of permanent housing
- Advocating for changes in current housing policies that put the poor at greater risk for homelessness.
The philosophy of the Bethlehem Project reflects the principles of Catholic social teaching.
Dignity of the Human Person
Each person possesses a basic dignity that comes from God. All persons are treated with respect, dignity and equality.
Community and the Common Good
The resources of the community need to be utilized for the common good.
Rights and Responsibilities
People have a fundamental right to life and to those things that make life truly human: food, clothing, housing, health care, security, education, social services, and employment. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to the family and to the larger society – to respect the rights of others and to work for the common good.
Option for the Poor
The needs of the poor and vulnerable are put first.
Dignity of Work
People have the right to decent and productive work, to decent and fair wages, to private property and economic initiative.
What is the Impact?
People often seek help because of circumstances beyond their control, that fundamentally disrupt their lives. For those without a surplus of resources, these unforeseen events plunge them into a state of crisis. In these times of crisis, they can turn to the Bethlehem Project for support. Here are a few of their stories.
“Because there was no place for him to stay…”
A 58 year old man on disability was living with his elderly father and helping to take care of him. When the father passed away, the man was forced to leave the home. He found an apartment to live in, but needed help with first month’s rent. Bethlehem Project assisted with first month’s rent and the man was able to secure permanent housing.
“Because there was no place for her to stay…”
A middle-aged woman was living in her vehicle after escaping an abusive family situation. The homeless shelter was full. The woman found subsidized housing that was to be ready in a week’s time. Bethlehem Project helped with emergency lodging for 6 days until the woman could move into her new housing.
“Because there was no place for them to stay…”
A couple found themselves in need when the wife lost her job. They got behind in their rent and were facing eviction. Bethlehem Project, in cooperation with Housing Authority and Catholic Charities, assisted to get back rent paid, so this couple could get a fresh start.
Frequently Asked Questions
|I need help. Where do I start? |
Clients need to contact Catholic Charities at 724-837-1840 for intake and referral.
|Who is assisted by the Project? |
The Bethlehem Project provides financial support, information and guidance to individuals and families regardless of religious background, race, gender, disability or lifestyle. Potential clients must:
|What services are offered? |
|How is the Project funded? |
The Bethlehem Project is funded by private donations, grants, memorial gifts and through fundraisers sponsored by the advisory board.
|How can I help? |
Bethlehem Project sponsors several fundraisers throughout the year; these are advertised in the parish. Direct contributions can be made to:
The Bethlehem Project