Often times when a need arises, a person with foresight and drive, forms an organization to service other human beings.
Many great organizations survived and flourished through the ages, first started by Christians.
Care for the elderly and disabled in society
Almshouses were established from the 10th century in Britain, to provide a place of residence for poor, old and distressed people. They were sometimes called bede-houses and the residents bedesmen or bedeswomen. Bede is the Anglo-Saxon word for prayer and the alms-men and women were obliged to pray for the founder of the charity.
The first recorded almshouse was founded in York by King Athelstan; the oldest still in existence is the Hospital of St. Cross in Winchester, dating to about 1132. In the Middle Ages, the majority of European hospitals functioned as almshouses.
Many of the medieval almshouses in England were established with the aim of benefiting the soul of the founder or their family, and they usually incorporated a chapel. As a result, most were regarded as chantries and were dissolved during the Reformation, under an act of 1547. Almshouses generally have charitable status and aim to support the continued independence of their residents. There is an important delineation between almshouses and other forms of sheltered housing in that almshouse residents generally have no security of tenure, being solely dependent upon the goodwill of the administering trustees.
They were the forerunner of nursing homes and hospitals. They sought to provide care for those who were no longer able to work.
MARRIAGE & The Catholic Church
Church teaching heavily influenced the legal concept of marriage. During the Gregorian Reform, the Church developed and codified a view of marriage as a sacrament. The credit of the strengthening of marriage was due to the Catholic Church from Roman times.
The Catholic Church Began Humane Initiatives
Early Church Fathers advocated against polygamy, abortion, infanticide, and child abuse from the Roman times.
ORPHANAGES & The Catholic Church
God is a "Father to the fatherless"... "God settles the lonely in families"; (Ps. 68:5,6)
The Catholic Church has provided a home for orphans from the beginnings of the church and from New Testiment times.
The early Christians founded hospitals, and children's asylums were established in the East.
St. Ephraem , St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom built a great number of hospitals.
Those for the sick were known as nosocomia , those for poor children were known as euphotrophia , and those for orphans, orphanotrophia .
In the Apostolic Constitutions, "Orphans as well as widows are always commended to Christian love. The bishop is to have them brought up at the expense of the Church and to take care that the girls be given, when of marriageable age, to Christian husbands, and that the boys should learn some art or handicraft and then be provided with tools and placed in a condition to earn their own living, so that they may be no longer necessary a burden to the Church " (Apost. Const., IV, ii, tr. Uhlhorn, p. 185). St. Augustine says: "The bishop protects the orphans that they may not be oppressed by strangers after the death of the parents." Also epistles 252-255: "Your piety knows what care the Church and the bishops should take for the protection of all men but especially of orphan children."
Churches were the first orphanages. In the High Middle Ages, abandoning unwanted children finally eclipsed infanticide. Unwanted children were left at the door of church or abbey, and the clergy was assumed to take care of their upbringing. This practice saw the birth of the first orphanages. The monasteries to modern times would took care of orphans. They were the shelters where the orphans were taught learning and trade avocations.
"Charities for Children in Mexico" for girls was established in 1548. The first orphanage in the United States was Ursulines, New Orleans in 1727.
The first Catholic orphan asylum in New York City was founded in 1817 by the Sisters of Charity in Prince Street, and is now maintained in two large buildings at Kingsbridge, N.Y.
There are fifty-one houses of Sisters of Charity (founded by St Vincent de Paul) in England, Ireland, and Scotland that had been established between 1855 and 1898 to care for orphans.
In later years, children were kept in the workhouses if they were too young or there were too many. In the next century the exposures, principally by Charles Dickens, of the evils bred by the workhouse and the indenturing system led to many reforms.
The Catholic Chruch has provided for the poor and the fatherless to this day and with great charity.