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February 27, 2001



Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, announces the establishment of a new Archdiocesan office, to be called the Office for Community Development. The mission of the office is to serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of neighborhoods in the city of Philadelphia, especially those which have experienced decline in recent years.

The Office for Community Development will have office space within the community of Kensington. This office space has not yet been identified. The Archdiocese recently purchased the former Starlight Theater as well as vacant land on Kensington Avenue, adjacent to Visitation B.V.M. Parish. It is hoped that this property will be the site of transitional housing for women and children in the near future. We will be working with the people of the community to explore other opportunities which would support the transformation of the neighborhood.

The Archdiocese began preparing for this initiative approximately two years ago. The office is in response to the vision of Cardinal Bevilacqua for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to become a catalyst for community development. The focus of this office in this neighborhood emerged after several years of discussion among Catholic Social Services, archdiocesan parishes, the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project, Philadelphia Safe and Sound, as well as City of Philadelphia agencies such as the Office of the Managing Director, the Department of Recreation and the Police Department's Operation Sunrise, all of whom shared concern about the growing number of younger, working families leaving the city. The Archdiocese began preparing for this initiative approximately two years ago. The Archdiocesan Office for Community Development will complement President George W. Bush's intent to work with faith-based entities.

Kensington was selected as the first targeted community, partly because of its needs, including a growing Hispanic and Vietnamese immigrant population. Catholic parishes in the Kensington area include Visitation B.V.M. Parish, Ascension of Our Lord Parish and Saint Hugh of Cluny Parish. It is hoped that other neighborhoods will be targeted in the future.

Operations of the Archdiocesan Office for Community Development are now being funded solely by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with no federal or city monies. Projects of the office will invite collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, the federal government, business community, private foundations and other local faith communities in target neighborhoods. "We want to help people help themselves. The Archdiocese may not necessarily be the provider of services, but rather we seek to be a catalyst," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. " We want to focus our energy and the resources of the Archdiocese on this target community in order to promote revitalization."

Cardinal Bevilacqua has appointed Brother Robert Kinzler, F.S.C., as the Director of the Office for Community Development. Prior to this appointment, Brother Robert served as the Executive Director of Saint Gabriel's System, a multi-service agency for the rehabilitation of adjudicated delinquent youth, most of whom are from the city of Philadelphia. Brother Kinzler said, "I believe that Cardinal Bevilacqua is reaffirming in a very concrete way the role of the Church as the presence of Christ in the midst of our city. I feel very honored that the Cardinal has asked me to be a part of this significant event in the life of the Church and the City of Philadelphia." Until permanent office space is established, Brother Robert Kinzler may be reached through Catholic Social Services, at 215-965-1710. Cardinal Bevilacqua also appointed Nicholas A. Giordano, a parishioner at Epiphany of Our Lord Parish in Norristown and former Interim President of LaSalle University and former Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, as Chair of the Advisory Committee.

Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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