A BRIEF HISTORY
Caritas Connections began back in 1976 when Father Tom Bryon was on sabbatical from the priesthood, and while on a walk on the northern edge of the city of St. Louis, noticed the poverty that was so prevalent in that area. Father’s mantra has always been, “Connecting those who have with those who need” so he asked a local bakery if they might have some leftover bread that he and his father could pick up and deliver to various St. Vincent DePaul locations in the city. The bakery provided four racks of bread for them to distribute - and that began a series of monthly trips of picking up and delivering.
In 1977, Father Bryon became an Associate Pastor at St. Dominic Savio Church and the donations not only continued, they grew in size. A benefactor donated a truck and Father enlisted the help of eighth grade students at the parish school to help him and his father with the deliveries.
In 1983, Father was transferred to Our Lady of Guadalupe and though his father was no longer able to help out, he enlisted two recently retired friends to step in and help. As more friends volunteered, deliveries moved to a weekly basis and additional stops were added to the growing list.
In 1993, Father Bryon was transferred to St. Mary Magdalen parish where he met Charlie Halbrook who began making deliveries every Friday. By then, more retail stores and organizations were making donations to this grass roots organization.
When Father Bryon was transferred to St. Gerard Majella in 2002, a few parishioners learned of his charitable work and wanted to get involved including John and Margot Hirlinger. John provided warehouse space at his company, which allowed more room for storage and Margot began coordinating pickups and deliveries as well as the growing list of volunteers. With Father Bryon’s retirement approaching, a group of volunteers encouraged him to form an official charitable organization so that his efforts could continue long after he made his last delivery. By the time Father Bryon retired from the priesthood in 2012, Caritas Connections had a long list of volunteers, donors and clients served.
Today, Caritas Connections serves more than 30 clients throughout the metro St. Louis area. It is still an all-volunteer organization, now numbering more than 100. Even as the organization has grown, the core reason why we exist has never wavered. As long as there are people in need who are suffering, we will continue to help fill those needs however and wherever we can – continuing Fr. Bryon’s mission for many years to come.