Parish Social Ministry is but one aspect of Catholic outreach in the Archdiocese. Another major component is archdiocesan Catholic Social Services, but the two are so radically different they do not present easy comparison.

Catholic Social Services’ 2008 Annual Report shows 165,532 clients served and a budget of more than $111 million. The parish report shows 484,000 people served but no dollar figure is given.

The reasons are simple. Many of the clients served by Catholic Social Services are receiving extensive services, in some cases total care. The staff is for the most part trained professionals with a small number of volunteers.

According to the annual report 86 percent of the revenue comes from government contracts, including Philadelphia Department of Human Services and Community Behavioral Health. Another 2 percent comes from fees paid by clients, and the remaining 2 percent comes through donations, the Catholic Charities Appeal and United Way.

Parishes may or may not have a paid staff member directing outreach programs, but the overwhelming number of workers are strictly volunteer. Almost everything distributed comes from donors in the parish or other parishes.

Parishes on their own could not operate facilities for people with disabilities, or comprehensive family service centers, or residential programs for children. They would not have the expertise or the funding. The two, Catholic Social Services and inspanidual parishes are partners, each with their own special gift. And there is a third component. That is the outreach programs run by inspanidual religious congregations, by schools and by Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, which no report covers.

“All of this is the Catholic Church,” said Robert J. Miller, director of the archdiocesan Office for Research and Planning. – Lou Baldwin