b Catholic Charities Welcomes New Executive Director -b

When Stephen Luteran officially assumes his post as the new executive director of Catholic Charities on June 25, he will be one of the few lay leaders in the agency’s history. Luteran will replace Father Charles McCoart, who has served Catholic Charities as executive director for the last five years. Aaron Palmer was the only other lay director of the agency. A social worker by training, Luteran will bring to the agency years of experience working in the field with troubled youth and as an agency director, as well as a vision that seeks to live out the Gospel message. "Catholic Charities should exemplify what it means to live the Gospel — to put our faith into practice," Luteran said. The mission of Catholic Charities, according to Luteran, is the same as that of every baptized Catholic — bringing Christ to others. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Luteran earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1987 from the University of Pittsburgh with the intention of studying law before his career took a different turn. After serving as a wilderness counselor for troubled teenage boys for a year, Luteran found his mission among youth and their families. Teens, he said, are unique because of their resilience in the face of difficulty and their hope for the future. Despite obstacles, young people have the ability to look forward and forge ahead in their lives. After relocating to Washington, Luteran took a position as a youth director at Hopkins House in Alexandria, where he gained a wide range of experience leading educational and summer programs as well as working with the elderly. He then earned a master’s degree in social work from the Virginia Commonwealth University while working full-time for Sasha Bruce Youthwork, an organization dedicated to serving at-risk youths in the Metro area. In his capacity as a director for a Sasha Bruce Youthwork home for teen mothers, Luteran said he gained valuable insight into the importance of fatherhood and family. "The girls I have worked with taught me how to parent," Luteran said. "Most of these kids were girls whose fathers were completely absent in their lives. The questions they asked have shaped my view of fatherhood and have prepared me to be a father to my own children." Working with the poor, Luteran said, has taught him valuable lessons about suffering and about the reciprocal relationship that develops between those who give and those who receive. "When we give ourselves to others, we fully discover who we are," Luteran said. "We awaken in others the ability to love. They teach us how to love. We strive to see the face of Christ in them, but they also must see the face of Christ in us. There is value in suffering because it can sanctify a person." The move to Catholic Charities was the result of a suggestion by Luteran’s wife, Beth. "My wife urged me to apply even though I was happy at Sasha Bruce," Luteran said. "As I began to pursue this position, the doors opened and I began to see it as part of God’s plan for me. Stepping into this position has brought to the forefront of my life faith and trust in God’s will." Since beginning the transition into his new office in May, Luteran has met with Catholic Charities directors and staff throughout the diocese. "People are very welcoming. Knowing that those who are serving others are as committed and as experienced as they are makes my job easier," he said As a student of veteran Catholic Charities employees, Luteran said he has much to learn. In addition to continuing and expanding already existing programs to ethnic groups, the poor and homeless, Luteran said Catholic Charities is also aware of the needs of middle class families and the working poor. In order to reach more people, Luteran hopes that Catholic Charities programs and opportunities to serve to others will become integral part of ordinary parish life and engage more Catholics into action. "We are one Church," he said. "As Catholics we need to have good, strong relationships amongst ourselves." In particular, Luteran said he hopes to engage the young people of the Arlington Diocese who want to contribute to the Church. "When people hear about the Faith, they need opportunities to live it out," he said. "Young people especially are on fire and need a way to demonstrate their faith."

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