Parish expert takes helm as Catholic Charities director of outreach

Denise Ogilvie, right, Catholic Charities director of outreach, meets with Sister Bridget Martin, FSGM, at a canned food drive at St. James Academy in Lenexa.
Denise Ogilvie, right, Catholic Charities director of outreach, meets with a St. James sophomore at a canned food drive at St. James Academy in Lenexa.

by Katie Hyde
Special to the Leaven

Overland Park — Every year, Catholic Charities works diligently to connect the thousands of people in need in the archdiocese with those whose hearts are called to serve.

The conduit that will make that happen in the future is Denise Ogilvie, Catholic Charities’ newly hired director of outreach.

Ogilvie, who started the job in February, is tasked with handling Catholic Charities’ outreach to over 100 parishes in the archdiocese. She works not only to educate parishes about the ways they can give to Catholic Charities, but also how the organization can help parishioners in need.

“We really believe we are not just an extension of the church and thereby the parishes,” said Ken Williams, director of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. “We believe we are a part of the parishes, a part of the church. We really believe our role at Catholic Charities is to enable parishioners to meet their Gospel mandate to serve those in need.”

With over $17 million given in assistance in 2015, over 100 parishes to serve in 21 counties, and a demand for services that increased 26 percent from 2014 to 2015, Ogilvie certainly has her work cut out for her. Since she started at Catholic Charities, she has held numerous meetings with parishes all over the archdiocese, learning about their needs and how they serve their communities.

“I am really in the process of learning,” Ogilvie said. “I’m trying to learn everything about the programs we offer here at Catholic Charities and all the work that we do, so that I can help spread the word to parishes and to our communities. In addition, I’m trying to find out how Catholic Charities can partner with parishes and deepen our relationships.”

Ogilvie is uniquely suited to this work. Before starting this position, she held positions in two archdiocesan parishes — St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood and Prince of Peace in Olathe — where she learned the ins and outs of parish life.

“I have a big passion for my faith,” Ogilvie said. “When I saw the outreach position open at Catholic Charities, it was [clear they were] looking for someone who could go out into the parishes and talk about Catholic Charities. I understand parishes. I understand what they need and how they work.”

Williams agreed, saying that it was Ogilvie’s parish background that made her the right fit for the position.

“Denise is a parishioner first,” Williams said, “partly because of the roles she’s had her whole career, partly because her faith is so important to her. She has a very servant mindset. She loves people, she loves helping people grow in her faith.

“I believe that is what has inspired her to come to Catholic Charities.”

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