The energy that drives The Family Development Center @ Catherine’s house springs from two sources; the charism of mercy and the founding spirit of Catherine McAuley. In 19th century Ireland, Catherine began her work by establishing the House of Mercy to provide safe shelter, job training opportunities for a productive future to poor young women who were without resources and often diseased. Her care of the poor sick in their homes laid the groundwork for networks of hospitals in the English speaking world that are distinguished by their service to the poor.
Today, the problems Catherine encountered are with us still. In our times, risks to teens from poor families and neighborhoods of poverty include domestic violence, abuse and neglect, gang membership and crime. These well documented trends lead to early school drop-out and consequent loss of job opportunities; depression and substance abuse; and, in the case of girls, early, unplanned pregnancies with little preparation for the responsibilities of parenting. The Family Development Centers is a place of intervention and gentle, yet consistent, correction for young people in Central High School communities.