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Serving the Poor with Christ’s Love

Sr. Miriam MacLean, R.S.M., Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana

Sr. Miriam MacLean, R.S.M., first arrived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2015, and served as the director of the Office of Religious Education for two years before going to Michigan to complete her doctoral studies in social work. She returned to Lake Charles in September 2018 with a new assignment: director of Catholic Charities. The charism of MacLean’s order, the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, founded in 1831 by Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley—is to serve Christ in the poor, sick, and ignorant.

This charism is lived out through MacLean’s work at Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, whose mission is remarkably simple: serve Christ’s poor. That’s important language that MacLean uses herself – Christ’s poor. Not “the” poor, as if they’re a subgroup of men and women who are merely classified by their poverty, but as Christ’s beloved, who suffer due to circumstances sometimes beyond their control.

From regular meal boxes to rent and utilities assistance, and from a toiletry pantry to counseling services, Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, under MacLean’s leadership, serves with love and simplicity whomever the Lord sends. The hope is that by giving some small physical thing—which may be big to the person who needs it—they will come to know the Lord’s tremendous love.

MacLean sees the work of Catholic Charities not only as a work of passing out goods or paying for services on behalf of others, but also as a work of encounter and dignity. “You can see that many of the staff and volunteers get to know the people who are seeking assistance and that there is a true communication of Christ’s love to them. Some people take the assistance and move on, but so, so many have an encounter of being cared for by Christ and his Church and I’m so grateful to see that!”

MacLean has seen so many men and women from the local community get involved in helping Christ’s poor. “We all have an obligation to our neighbor, and this is why we need to think and care about their physical needs.”

Every day, Catholic Charities of SWLA is filled with volunteers who give of their personal time and energy to stock shelves, pack boxes, help with the completion of rent and utility assistance applications, and seek donations from local businesses looking to give back to the community. “When we provide these needs, we are helping to love others with the very love of Jesus Christ.”


Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana has served the local community since 1980, when the Diocese of Lake Charles was established. Find out more here