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Vivian Clausing named to lead SVdP’s Catherine Center

March 20, 2015
Tom Burke

Catherine Center, a Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County program that supports women leaving incarceration, has appointed Vivian Clausing as program director.

Clausing is an attorney and well known in the social justice corridors of the archdiocese.

“I’m blessed that this ministry includes both direct relationship with the women that we serve and interaction with volunteers, donors, and special friends,” Clausing told Catholic San Francisco via email. Clausing said she will “manage the day to day life of the community.”

Catherine Center helps formerly incarcerated women develop new behaviors, reconnect with children and family and prepare for a productive life in society.

“I love to nurture people,” Clausing said. “Serving women on the margins has been close to my heart for some time.”

Clausing is a former director of youth ministry for the archdiocese and during that time volunteered in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District regularly. The experience stays with her. “I was struck by the unique challenges faced by women, teenage girls and elderly women living in shelters and on the streets,” she said.

Clausing said the focus of her new post, one she calls ministry, is “presence and love.” Her spiritual formation and training as a spiritual director as well as her life experience as a parent and her law degree will accompany her at Catherine Center.

Clausing said she is walking into an already well-run organization.

“SVdP’s vision of a person-to-person approach is alive in the individual way that we serve each resident according to her needs. The Sisters of Mercy gave us a good spiritual foundation. Mercy Center has been supportive of us. After our women leave us, SVdP is there for ongoing homelessness prevention and other help, as are we at Catherine Center.”

Clausing said the center “offers a place of healing and transformation” for an underserved population. “We are blessed to witness miracles every day as women turn their lives around, reunite with their families, find jobs, learn new skills and learn to love themselves,” she said.

Clausing is only in a rush to “be a good steward of the ministry; to grow resources to build the women’s skills and program support possibly through a social enterprise option.” Catherine Center receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of the community for support.

Catherine Center opened in 2003 in alliance with the Sisters of Mercy. As of February 2015, it has welcomed 88 women, all from detention facilities mainly in the Bay Area,

Of the women the center has helped, 86 graduated from, attended or are attending an intensive addiction recovery program; 55 are mothers or grandmothers of 109 minor children and 52 adult children; 43 are attending or have completed college courses or training programs during their stay.

The center will continue to support up to 10 women in its 12-month residency program.

“Moreover, Catherine Center will continue community outreach to share our important mission and courageous stories to help break down stereotypes and heal the community,” the organization said.

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