From left, guest Bethany Welch joins archdiocesan Director of Catholic Relief Services Anne Ayella and CRS Northeast-Mid-Atlantic Regional director Maureen McCullough at the blessing ceremony of the new CRS office in Media.

An enthusiastic chorus of the hymn “We are Called” rang out from the 65 people gathered at the new home of Catholic Relief Services’ Northeast-Mid-Atlantic office on Friday, Feb. 8.

The new office is located in the heart of Media in the former convent of Nativity B.V.M. Parish.

The newly renovated office space — thanks to work by local Knights of Columbus volunteers — was blessed by Father Edward Bell, parish pastor, and all who gathered for the celebration including students, university partners, archdiocesan and parish partners, religious, staff and friends of CRS.

Nativity Parish has a rich 150-year history of reaching out in charity to others and being the “hands of Christ” as Father Bell reminded all who gathered.


Catholic Relief Services has a rich 75-year history of being a beacon of hope and light for those most in need around the world — from responding to the humanitarian needs of migrants and refugees during World War II to programs and services that today reach over 130 million people across 110 countries.

The convent likewise has a rich tradition of being graced with faith, wisdom and leadership through the Sisters of St. Francis from 1912 through 1994 and through the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Sister Barbara Maureen, O.S.F., former principal at Nativity BVM School, said she is pleased that Catholic Relief Services is now in the home where she spent many years. She sees the work of CRS as a continuation of the charism of her own Franciscan community.

Enjoying the celebration at CRS’ new office in Media are, from left, Mary Bell, Carolyn Rice, Kathleen Kahlau and Yvette Palmer.

Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president of Mission and Mobilization for CRS, as well as Maureen McCullough, Northeast Mid-Atlantic regional director, both expressed their thanks to all gathered.

They agreed the work of CRS would not be possible without strong partners such as St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, area Catholic universities, high schools and parishes, CRS ambassadors and administrators with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

As the blessing concluded, Father Bell invited all guests to raise their hand and all prayed, “Lord God of heaven and earth, bless this house and all who work here and all who visit. May we be blessed with health, kindness of heart, gentleness, and the fulfilling of your call to bring the Good News of God’s love to all people, especially those whom society considers poor and marginalized. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all and build a world of justice and peace.”

A sense of solidarity permeated the newly blessed space and all left with a renewed hope and commitment to global justice and peace — a commitment needed now more than ever in the United States and the world.

In the building’s chapel in which the blessing of CRS’ new office took place are, from left, Jerry Zurek, Aidé Cuenca and Elias Bakhash.