By Shawna Erickson, Diocesan Catholic Foundation

TAUNTON — On June 28 a dedication was held with representatives of the Diocese of Fall River, non-profit partners, and city and state government officials to celebrate the Samaritan House Shelter’s new location. The gathering was an opportunity to acknowledge the many hands and hearts that contributed to opening its new home in the former Rectory of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish as well as to highlight the critically important work that the Samaritan House and its staff carries out every day. 

Susan Mazzarella, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fall River, speaks during a dedication ceremony for the new location of Samaritan House in Taunton on June 28. (Photo by John E. Kearns Jr.)

A longstanding ministry of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fall River, Samaritan House provides shelter for 18 homeless individuals and serves as a vital conduit in linking them to additional resources to aid in their journeys toward transitional and permanent housing.

CEO of Catholic Charities, Susan Mazzarella, reminded the group not only of the root of Samaritan House’s name from the Biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan aiding a brother in need, but also of the shelter’s current spiritual and corporal role. She said, “Pope Francis said that we must immerse ourselves in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with closeness, compassion, and tender love. Here at Samaritan, we acknowledge that we cannot be the singular simple solution to this complex problem. However, we are a part of a solution, by bringing people in from the streets and encampments and tending to their wounds of homelessness.  

“Here they have a place to shower, do their laundry, [and] have a meal.  They have a warm, clean place to lay their head, an environment where they aren’t judged and where, with the bandages of acceptance, safety, and compassion, they are given the beginnings of recuperation and restored dignity.” 

Mazzarella recognized The Samaritan House staff, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., the Catholic Charities’ Board of Directors and Facilities Department, the diocese’s Chancery and Real Estate Department, the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, community Counseling of Bristol County, Our Daily Bread, the United Way, the City of Taunton’s Building Commissioner and Fire Department, State Representative Jim Hawkins, and Catholic Charities’ many volunteers for their contributions to making the work of the opening of the new location possible. 

The speaking program also included words from the Mayor of the City of Taunton, Shaunna O’Donnell, and State Representative Carol Doherty. Bishop da Cunha closed the speaking program. He shared more context about the Parable of the Good Samaritan that reminded those gathered to reach across divides to offer help and hope to those in need and offered a closing prayer. 

The event also included tours of the facility as well as a luncheon for guests to continue in fellowship, united by a common purpose: restoring the dignity of the homeless individuals in the community and supporting their fragile and resilient paths forward.