“It’s wonderful! I’m deeply impressed. It’s not just functional, it’s also beautiful.”
Pope Francis’s official delegate to the Church in the United States and diplomatic ambassador to the U.S. government expressed admiration while touring Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri’s Central Offices in Jefferson City.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, joined Bishop W. Shawn McKnight on a tour of the facility and its client-choice Catholic Charities Food Pantry May 4.
The archbishop was in the diocese for the following day’s rededication of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
He spoke to members of the Catholic Charities staff, including Catholic Charities Family Immigration Services, which is committed to reuniting separated family members through the immigration process and helping people apply for U.S. citizenship.
“They do great work!” said Sister Kathleen Wegman of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Catholic Charities interim executive director.
Archbishop Pierre toured the warehouse area and well-stocked aisles of the food pantry and visited the LaSalette community room and chapel, where staff members gather for prayer once a week.
The Catholic Charities Central Office, opened in January 2022 after extensive remodeling and expansion, was originally built in the 1950s as a chapel and gymnasium for the former Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Seminary.
Looking outside, Archbishop Pierre noticed the array of solar panels that provides much of the building’s electricity.
The solar array and geothermal heating and cooling system minimize the amount of energy the facility draws from local utilities, saving money and limiting the environmental impact.
“Also,” noted Ashely Wiskirchen, Catholic Charities’ senior director of communications, “it would keep us off the power grid in the case of a disaster, so that our pantry could continue to operate and we could function as a hub for emergency triage.”
Before departing, Archbishop Pierre prayed with the agency’s staff and asked for the Blessed Mother’s intercession under her title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, patroness of the diocese.
He spoke with delight of Catholic Charities the following day at the end of the Cathedral Rededication Mass.
“It’s one of your priorities and I thank you for that,” he told the assembly. “It’s beautiful and also correspondent with the teachings of our Church,” he stated. “This is the kind of Church you want to be.”