Our History

Rev. Pat O’Byrne founded Catholic Family Service (CFS) in 1957 to serve individuals and families of all faiths and cultures in the Calgary community. One of the first professionally-trained social workers in Calgary, Pat set an immediate standard of excellence in service to Calgarians. Our commitment to welcome everyone continues today.

Counselling services have been a mainstay at CFS since our inception. The belief that the benefits of counselling should be available to everyone regardless of income still holds true, which is why our counselling fees are based on what people can afford to pay.

In 1970, we partnered with the Calgary Board of Education to offer services to pregnant and parenting teens – the origins of the Louise Dean Centre. Recognizing that education was critical to breaking the cycle of poverty, the programs at the Louise Dean Centre ensured (and continue to ensure) that pregnant and parenting young women had the opportunity to complete their high school education while learning to be the best parents they could be.

Implementing new and innovative programming has been an important factor in ensuring our services remain relevant to the community. A wide range of community-based programs have been introduced throughout our history, such as the Families and Schools Together Program (implemented in 1996), that helps facilitate stronger bonds not just within families, but between families and school systems.

We continue to address gaps in service and meet the needs of under-served populations. In 2015, we launched Fathers Moving Forward, a first-of-its-kind program that works with young dads (under the age of 24) to develop the skills to parent and co-parent well. Fathers Moving Forward is an example of how we ‘walk our talk’; fathers aren’t optional when it comes to building stronger families.

Our nearly 60 year history reveals a determination to offer affordable, innovative services that break the cycle of vulnerability and strengthen families and communities.

“We were university students and expecting a baby in 2012 when we started meeting with a social worker at Louise Dean Centre. As young parents, we needed a lot of support. After our daughter was born, Jameela decided to work from home and build a jewelry business. When Peter got laid off, we thought, “If we can do this baby thing, we can run a business.” Turns out babies and businesses are a lot the same. They take time and effort and trial and error, but then they start doing things on their own. Now our jewelry is in 40 stores across Canada. ”

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