Charity Guild of Catholic Women: A Century of Caring

A Classic Story of Can-do Determination, Texas Grit, and Houston Generosity

By Mary Frances Fabrizio

The Charity Guild of Catholic Women members gather in front of Charity Guild Shop at 1203 Lovett Boulevard in 2022. All photos courtesy of the Charity Guild of Catholic Women unless otherwise noted.

In the early 1920s, the economic engine of American enterprise stood poised to grow, bringing vast wealth and material goods to millions. As part of this growth, Houston was home to financiers, industrialists, and businessmen such as Jesse H. Jones and brothers Herman and George R. Brown who shaped the Houston economy. However, many residents did not enjoy the wealth and comfortable lifestyle of these prominent leaders. The effects of economic want were apparent in many areas, and some Houstonians grew determined to do something about it.

The Sewing Committee has been making layettes for newborns from the Guild’s earliest days.

Among those who observed the community’s pervasive poverty was Monsignor George Walsh, pastor of Church of the Annunciation in downtown Houston. The escalating infant death rate among his Mexican immigrant parishioners shocked him, and he resolved to remedy it. Already well known for his love for the poor and particularly for this vulnerable population, he was aptly called “the social worker of his day.” Msgr. Walsh decided that the Mexican community needed a free clinic and some concerned citizens who could and would financially support it. A group of his female parishioners formed an organization known today as Charity Guild of Catholic Women to provide this essential funding.

Fifty-nine Friends with a Heart for Children

At Monsignor’s request, Mrs. Lucian “Kate” Carroll, one of the most prominent women in the Catholic community, hosted a luncheon in her River Oaks home in October 1922. She asked her fifty-eight guests to donate $1.00 each for a charity fund to benefit Msgr. Walsh’s Clinica Gratuita, renamed San José Clinic in 1947.

Mrs. Lucian “Kate” Carroll, a founder of the Charity Guild of Catholic Women. Photo courtesy of Kitty Bronec.

The charity fund had humble beginnings for what would become a $2-million-per-year charitable enterprise, Charity Guild Shop, owned and operated by Charity Guild of Catholic Women. These early women of compassion dedicated themselves to helping where needed but did not want to be burdened with the red tape of bylaws and scheduled meetings. Kate Carroll and the other charter members agreed, “We just got together, we were all friends, and saw where we were needed. So, we began to work.”

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Visit the official website of the Charity Guild Shop to learn more about its dedication to assisting children in need.
Read about the Charity Guild of Catholic Women’s 100th anniversary celebration as they pay tribute to Kate Carroll’s impact on the community.

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