Christmas Spirit: Pathways Member Pays It Forward


With Christmas approaching, I find myself inspired by the generosity of our Blessed Virgin Mary. Soon after learning she would bear our Savior, she embarked on a difficult journey to help her cousin Elizabeth, who being of advanced age and expecting a child herself, was in even greater need.

May I tell you about another Mary who recently put the needs of others above her own?

Determined to build a better life for her three children, Mary – a single working mother – enrolled in Pathways to Progress, a Catholic Charities of St. Louis program that helps families in need work towards economic stability.

Mary’s Pathways advisor connected her with several of our Catholic Charities agencies and other community partners that provided personal finance, career, legal, and tax counseling, as well as assistance with car repairs and back-to-school necessities.

While working on her Pathways goals, Mary –in the spirit of our Blessed Virgin – looked past her own limited resources and offered to take in a child whose mother was struggling with addiction and then, tragically, passed away. Mary turned to Catholic Charities for grief counseling and foster parenting advice.

Mary continues on her path to independence and is even saving to buy a home. “Financially and emotionally, I was in a dark place,” she said. “But this program has been like a breath of fresh air. Pathways is like family to my children and me.”

As we enter the Holy Season, I invite you to join me in turning to our Blessed Mother as a model of compassion, as we strive to be the hope, peace, and comfort of Jesus Christ to others.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas!



Theresa E. Ruzicka, CPA
President, Catholic Charities of St. Louis