James T. Amato

Each March, National Social Work Month is observed as a way to recognize and celebrate social workers and their invaluable contributions to our society.

Social workers are the “glue” that holds everything together in an often tumultuous landscape. They help strengthen our communities, connect families to vital resources and provide critical care and support effectively as well as efficiently. All of this work is achieved within the context of making the world a more equitable and inclusive place.

Through its many good works, Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CSS) defends the dignity of all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, while seeking to provide for their well-being.

I started my career with CSS in 1976, fresh out of college with a degree in Social Work from Temple University. As a committed Catholic, I valued my faith and respected the work of the Church in helping others. As such, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was one of the first places I sent my resumé.

I received a call and accepted a position at St. Mary’s Villa for Children. I appreciated the human value of this work and the opportunity to increase my knowledge and skills while also growing in my faith. It proved to be a great decision, not only professionally but also personally.

For more than four decades, I have worked for CSS from being a frontline caseworker and supervisor to now serving as Secretary for Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHS).

I’ve had the opportunity to meet countless individuals during my career, each one helping me to mature and grow as a social worker and see myself as an instrument of the Church’s mission in the world by serving the most vulnerable among us.

People need help navigating challenges, especially the tough ones. CSS social workers daily touch the lives of immigrants; senior citizens; children, youth, and families; those experiencing homelessness; pregnancy and parenting mothers; veterans; women in recovery; those facing hunger and many others.

Over the last year, amid a devastating pandemic, the importance of this profession and its life-changing work have been highlighted even more. I am proud to say that CSS has risen to the occasion with remarkable dedication and creativity and will continue to be a beacon of hope for those who need us most.

Please pray for God’s blessing on the success of our ongoing efforts — and the efforts of all social workers. Together, with God’s grace, we will continue to provide help and create hope for our neighbors in need.

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James T. Amato is the Secretary for Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Secretariat for Catholic Human Services is comprised of various archdiocesan agencies that administer a broad range of human services programs including Catholic Social Services, Catholic Housing and Community Services and Nutritional Development Services.