PASSAIC Catholics who have contributed to Partners in Faith can have a sense a pride when they visit 153 Washington Place here because they have built something special — a safe haven for women to meet, share and grow. The Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women, born from the Partners in Faith campaign, is changing the lives of countless women living in one of the poorest cities in the state of New Jersey.
Housed in the former rectory of St. Nicholas Parish here, the women’s center was one of the case elements of the Partners in Faith campaign. Its goal is to serve women in the inner city, who often have nowhere else to turn for assistance.
“The Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women is very grateful to all the donors,” said Sister of Christian Charity Ann Marie Paul, the center’s director. “Because of you, we were able to open our doors a year and a half ago. Because of you, we are able to provide hope in the city of Passaic. Because of you, we will continue to offer a safe and welcoming place that empowers women and strengthens families. Thank you, Partners in Faith.”
Since the center’s opening on Sept. 24, 2013, more than 1,700 visits have been made by women participating in various programs. The center started with English as a Second Language classes and now offers several different sessions for women to learn English. Other programs include quilting, computer classes, gardening in the spring, art classes and a ladies’ night program called “Agua Viva” (“Living Water”). In the upcoming year, the center will continue its gardening program and add basic sewing and citizenship classes.
The center was the vision of several religious orders serving in the Paterson Diocese facilitated by Sister of Christian Charity Mary Edward Spohrer, diocesan chancellor / delegate for religious, and Dominican Sister Catherine McDonnell, vice chancellor for planning/urban ministry, who were seeking ways to increase services to poor families in the diocese while reaching out and helping mothers in urban areas.
To those who have pledged to Partners in Faith or those simply curious about what the women’s center offers, Sister Ann Marie Paul issued an open invitation to all to stop in for a tour. Visitors should simply contact the Neighborhood Center ahead of time. Those interested could also visit the center’s blog for updates and happenings, http://womenscenterpassaic.blogspot.com.
“The creation of the Passaic Neighborhood Center truly is a collaboration, a partnership of so many different people consisting of the diocese, religious, lay volunteers, parishes, the city and so many others,” said Sister Ann Marie.