Isaiah 43 is a program of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of New Orleans that focuses on prevention and peacebuilding within families. With family-centered strategies and activities for parents, kids and community members alike, the program helps advance the archdiocese’s mission of ending violence, murder and racism throughout the city.

We were really blessed to have the support of OSVI over the past year. It’s helped us provide a comprehensive scope of services through Isaiah 43 and much-needed activities for our young people to keep them engaged and continue to foster the faith formation, leadership and skills that are developing their sense of hope for where they see themselves in the future.

The Isaiah 43 program gets its name from the Bible, where God proclaims His love for His people: “I have called you by name and you are mine...you are precious in my eyes and I love you.” Rooted in the belief that all life is precious and has dignity, Isaiah 43 works with Catholic churches that are interested in supporting families in the community and touching each unique life. Started in 2011 with three initial parishes, the program has since worked with a total of 15 parishes across the archdiocese and has grown in scope, operating under four distinct strategies:

  • Parenting skills. As the primary teachers in a child’s life, parents are called to be the best they can be through effective, non-violent parenting. By gathering together, learning from each other and building community, Isaiah 43 helps parents recognize their role as leaders of the family and successfully raise the next generation of citizens.
  • Youth development. Parents can’t do it alone. Isaiah 43 supports youth development through a youth mentoring program that connects young people with adult mentors who share the same faith values and character traits as parents. In addition, youth can join the Young Peacemakers Leadership Council to become advocates for peace in the community, develop their faith and be peer leaders.
  • Intensive support to families. Despite a parent’s best intentions, there are still barriers that might prevent them from thriving and reaching their goals. Isaiah 43 helps parents get out of “survival mode” each day with access to skills and support with the help of a licensed social worker and other resources to reach their full potential.
  • Education and collaboration. Isaiah 43 program leaders are true facilitators, putting action in the hands of those they partner with to drive their own education and create their own destiny. Through partnership with families, parents can still be in the driver’s seat and determine their own goals. Through partnership with young people, teens can still have a voice and become successful adults. And through partnership with Catholic parishes, churches can still be the cornerstone of their communities. By providing educational resources and working with volunteers throughout the community, Isaiah 43 can better equip community members to respond to the needs of families.

Isaiah 43 received their first grant from OSVI in 2017 as part of the institute’s focus on supporting Catholic parenting. Since then, the program has been able to provide a comprehensive level of services, including more activities to keep youth engaged, parenting sessions and the necessary supplies/resources to make them effective, volunteer development and incentives to encourage parents to be consistent with their participation. Through the program, young people are able to participate and gain exposure to cultural and recreational activities throughout New Orleans that they may not otherwise had an opportunity to experience.

With seven years under its belt, Isaiah 43 is still considered a newer program within the archdiocese. Going forward, they plan to continue getting the word out about their initiatives, expanding their reach to more parishes and increasing the number of youth participants in order to gain a more diverse representation among their parishes, Catholic schools and public schools. “We’re trying to help prevent future young people from becoming unaffiliated with the church,” said Kristina Gibson, program director of Isaiah 43.