Season of Growth and Transition

By Erin Smith


Although it may not feel quite like fall yet, autumn is officially here. Spring and fall are often seen as times of transition and new beginnings, both in our physical world and the spiritual one. In spring, we have new plant growth, warmer temperatures, and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. In fall, we have the changing of the leaves, cooler temperatures (hopefully), All Saints Day and the coming celebration of the birth of our Lord.

Just as the earth and our spiritual calendars are transitioning, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana is also experiencing change.

JoAnn Worley, the program coordinator in the Monroe CCNLA office, will be retiring later this month. JoAnn has served the organization for three and a half years and helped open the Monroe satellite office. She teaches the budget session for Money School in Monroe but attributes their success to the entire team. Executive Director Meg Goorley mentions that JoAnn “has the most compassionate heart of anyone I know. Her sincerity makes people feel safe in her presence. What a gift she has been to Catholic Charities!”

One of the highlights of her work at CCNLA is when a former client approached her in the store after work. The client explained to JoAnn that because of the information gleaned from the Money School budget session, she was able to find and keep a job, while paying bills on time. “That made my day!” said JoAnn.

“I can honestly say with a very grateful heart, that the beauty of the last three and a half years was seeing how God has brought all these individuals and agencies together to meet the needs of our fellow neighbors in our community,” JoAnn recounts. “Providing hope to our clients is what we do best, and it is through your generosity that this is being accomplished.”

Taking the vacant helm in Monroe will be Kirsten Gladen, a parishioner at St. Paschal’s in West Monroe. “I prayed that God would send me the perfect person to expand the office in Monroe from three to five days a week, and He sent me Kirsten Gladen,” Goorley said. “Kirsten’s experience with behavioral health and business made her the ideal candidate for us.”

“I’m excited to get out in the community and spread the word about Catholic Charities in Monroe,” Kirsten said. Mica Williams, a member of Jesus Good Shepherd, has transitioned to full-time so that she and Kirsten can better serve clients in Northeast Louisiana.

Another new face joining the organization is that of Erin Smith. Erin joins CCNLA as the new development coordinator, taking the place of Katherine Stringer-Davis. Erin’s background includes work with various nonprofits in the Shreveport-Bossier area as well as public relations and marketing efforts for various businesses. “I’m excited to help grow CCNLA,” Erin said, “and further our message of love, hope and help for the most vulnerable among us.”

CCNLA will soon begin work to ready the charity’s new location in Shreveport. The building at 902 Olive Street in Shreveport, a former breast-imaging center, is a gift from the Diocese of Shreveport. Thanks to a generous donation from the Christus Foundation in 2017, the Diocese was able to deed the property to CCNLA in September. Renovations may take up to 18 months.

While transitions can sometimes be scary, Catholic Charities is meeting their changes with excitement and anticipation for a season of growth. “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

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