The Caritas Association for the Archdiocese of Paderborn
Structure and tasks
The ‘Caritasverband für das Erzbistum Paderborn’ (in short Diözesan Caritasverband) is responsible for the charitable institutions and services of the Catholic Church in the arch-diocese of Paderborn. The arch-diocese area includes East and South Westphalia and the eastern part of the Ruhr district. It also includes part of North Hessen (Waldeck) and the town of Bad Pyrmont in Lower Saxony.
The ‘Diözesan Caritasverband’ does not itself run services and institutions. Its task is to coordinate, support and further develop charitable work in the arch-diocese on behalf of the Archbishop of Paderborn. It represents this provision of non-government social welfare towards the state and sources of public financing. It is a member of the LAG (Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft), the association of leading organisations for non-government social welfare in North Rhine Westphalia.
At local level charitable work is carried out by many different Catholic organisations; by local branches of the ‘Caritasverband’ and specialised organisations, by parishes, charitable societies, organisations and foundations. Altogether there are approximately 750 Catholic charity organisations in 2000 service centres and institutions. More than 65,000 people work in the charitable institutions; about half of these in the 50 Catholic hospitals.
The 23 local Caritas branches (Ortscaritasverband OCV) are direct members of the ‘Diözesancaritasverband’. Each OCV is an independent incorporated organisation (eV), for which personal Caritas members are responsible. There are around 40,000 personal signed-up members of Caritas altogether in the arch-diocese.
Other specialised organisations, each with their own local branches, are attached to the diocesan ‘Caritasverband’. These include Caritas Konferenzen (CKD – voluntary groups of women at local or parish level) Vinzenz Konferenzen (male voluntary workers’ organisations) Sozialdienst katholischer Männer (SKM- social work for Catholic men), Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen (SkF – social work for Catholic women), Malteser Hilfsdienst (MHD – Order of Malta relief organisation), IN VIA (a Catholic girls’ charity) and the Kreuzbund (alcoholics’ self-help organisation).
In addition there are corporate members such as the institutions for health care, for the elderly and for the handicapped. The professional work is supported by various appropriate diocesan teams which are attached to them.
The operative headquarters of the diocesan Caritasverband is responsible for the work of the ‘Department for Charities and Social Services’ in the administrative headquarters of the Paderborn diocese. (Generalvikariat)
Structure and administrative bodies
- Committee of delegates (meets annually)
- Supervisory board (Diözesan-Caritasrat)
- Diocesan executive committee
Josef Lüttig has been president of the ‘Diözesan-Caritasverband’ since 2019.
Caritas, (Latin term for the virtue of charity) as commanded in the Gospels, is as old as Christianity itself. Alongside the duty of each individual Christian to love his or her neighbour, there have always been forms of organised Caritas, for example in the monasteries.
In the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution brought impoverishment to large sections of the population, these proved to be no longer adequate. Caritas groups developed in the parishes: In Olpe (1845) and in Soest (1847) women set up so-called ‘Elisabeth-Vereine’ of voluntary workers. (today Caritas-Konferenzen) In 1849 men in Paderborn joined together to found the first ‘Vinzenz-Konferenz’. At the same time numerous teaching and nursing institutions were founded – a development which benefited from the establishment of new charitable religious orders. In 1913 the Diocese of Paderborn had 112 Catholic hospitals.
This was also the time when the charitable societies were founded: the ‘Verein für Jugendhilfe’ (juvenile aid society) in 1894, the SkF and SKM (1899/1912), IN VIA (1907) and the ‘Kreuzbund’ (1905).
The first Caritas association at local level was founded in Dortmund in 1906. On December 8th 1915 Bishop Karl Joseph Schulte created a diocesan ‘Caritasverband’ to unite the charitable activities under one umbrella organisation. Organised Caritas grew steadily up to 1933. In 1925 there were already 27 Caritas associations at local level and 300 Caritas groups in the parishes. During the time of National Socialism the work of Caritas suffered frequent harassment. Time and again Diözesan Caritasdirektor Rudolf Dietrich and many other priests and laymen who were active in charitable work were interrogated or imprisoned.
After the Second World War the ‘Diözesan Caritasverband’ founded the Catholic ‘Osthilfe’ (Eastern Aid) in the diocese of Paderborn. This was responsible for providing many thousands of displaced people with accommodation, food and clothing and, in the long run, for achieving their integration. Altogether the diocese of Paderborn took in 730,000 Catholic refugees – more than any other German diocese. These refugees made up approximately a third of the total resident Catholic population.
The development of a professional Caritas was indicated as early as 1948, when the first training centre for family care in Germany was opened in Bochum – at that time part of the diocese of Paderborn. The arrival of the first guest workers (from 1956) led to the development of social services for foreigners. The 70s and 80s were characterised by a further differentiation in the services offered: social welfare centres were created and advisory centres were set up – for example, for educational difficulties, for pregnancy problems and for people in debt. In the 1990s new guidelines for all levels of Caritas were drawn up; in 1998 for the ‘Diozesan-Caritasverband’.
The central motto remains: on the basis of the Christian concept of humanity Caritas helps people in need and at the same time is advocate and partner of the underprivileged.
The ‘Diozesan-Caritasverband’ supports, advises and coordinates work in the following areas:
Healthcare and Care for the Elderly
- care for the elderly
- mobile care services
- medical and nursing professions
- health and recuperation cures
Advisory Services, Aid for people with special risks, Integration
- pregnancy advice
- general social advice
- advice for debtors
- advice on social law
- aid for addicts
- aid for criminal offenders
- problem areas in cities
- work and employment
- legal support
- shops for people with reduced means
- advice on EU support projects
Aid for children, for young people and the handicapped
- day centres for children
- advice and help for parents
- help for the handicapped
community service (as alternative to military service), services for the elderly, voluntary work, emergency and structural aid in other countries, professional Caritas coordination in the deaneries of the diocese, economic advice etc.
Caritas voluntary work
Giving, receiving and sharing happiness – around 21,000 men and women in the Archdiocese of Paderborn have chosen this. This is the number of those who work voluntarily in Caritas organisations or specialised charitable groups. The majority of these (approximately 17,000) are organised in ‘Caritas-Konferenzen’ and helper groups. They make visits in the neighbourhood, in nursing homes or hospitals; they are involved in projects to provide food or meals for the needy, they help immigrant children with language difficulties. The Maltese Cross, Kreuzbund, SkF and SKM or Vinzenz-Konferenzen also offer attractive activities for voluntary workers. Many of these can be found on the internet. www.ehrenamt-caritas.de
Editor and contact address:
Caritasverband für das Erzbistum Paderborn e.V.
Fachstelle Grundsatzfragen u. Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Am Stadelhof 15
For more information: www.caritas-paderborn.de