In response to the pressing needs of the times in 1959, the late Julio Cardinal Rosales organized and spearheaded the CATHOLIC AID. The organization successfully functioned as a local Archdiocesan organization for a year. In 1966 it was renamed the “CEBU ARCHDIOCESAN SOCIAL ACTION CENTER” until 1972. The organization was acknowledged as the “Charity Arm of the Archdiocese of Cebu” in 1973 and given a new name – CEBU CARITAS. This paved the way for the organization to take an active role in providing social and spiritual services to the Catholic faithful of Cebu.
In January 10, 1974, the same office was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the name: CEBU CARITAS INC. It found a permanent home in a new four-story building on P. Gomez St., Cebu City. It was inaugurated on the occasion of the Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee of His Eminence Julio Cardinal Rosales.
It was during this time that Cebu Caritas, Inc. came up with various programs such as General Assistance and Disaster Relief, Youth Welfare, Family Life, Alay Kapwa, Nutrition, Formation, and Ways and Means. These were the programs that gave life to Cebu Caritas’ Vision and Mission. In 1980, the Evangelization Program was added under a joint apostolate between Cebu Caritas Inc. and the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) and Missio-Germany. Life in the Spirit seminars were conducted and modules for the formation of Lay Liturgical Leaders were introduced and implemented.
In 1981, the then Ministry of Social Services and Development awarded Cebu Caritas, Inc. a Certificate of License to Operate. It was also officially recognized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as a donee institution. With Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal’s appointment as the new Archbishop of Cebu in 1982 also came the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of Cebu Caritas, Inc. Cardinal Vidal appointed Sr. Ma. Consuelo Ananca, RVM, as Executive Director of Cebu Caritas, Inc. in the same year until 1985.
In February 25, 1983, Cebu Caritas, Inc. was awarded as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Institutions and was recognized for its successful Nutrition Program. In 1984, Cebu Caritas, Inc. expanded its programs to include Food Production and Integrated Farming through its linkages with the Catholic Relief Services.
Cooperatives were formed in the parishes and Cebu Caritas, Inc. became a recognized member of the Council of Welfare Agencies Foundation of the Philippines.
In 1991, Cebu Caritas, Inc. was officially recognized and renamed the Commission on Service. Rev. Msgr. Roberto F. Alesna took over the helm of this renewed Archdiocesan Commission as its chairman. He was assisted by Rev. Fr. Jose Ma. Lim. Office Administration was handled by Sr. Ma. Beatriz de Aquino, RVM, and Sr. Ma. Teresita Arado, RVM, respectively, from 1991-1994. The sisters played a crucial role in office management and in staff formation.
In 1995, the Commission on Service created eight programs and seven sub-commissions. This was in line with the Cebu Archdiocesan Pastoral Thrust (CAPT) with a renewed focus on the Tertio Millenio Adveniente (TMA). Thus, 1997 became an interesting period in the history of the Commission. The Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Self-Reliance (CAPSR – Grameen), was launched through the leadership and efforts of Rev. Msgr. Roberto F. Alesna, and his co-chairmen — Rev. Frs. Wendell Jose Balbuena and Jose Ma. Lim. Sr. Ma. Felisa Declaro, RVM, served as Administrative and Finance Director.
The years 2014-2019 saw the implementation of the following major programs of the commission, namely: Diocesan Welfare Services (DWS), Alay Kapwa, Relief, Emergency and Rehabilitation, Scholarship, HIV/AIDS Advocacy, and the Cebu Archdiocesan Ecological Recovery Program (CAERP) Program under the leadership and guidance of Rev. Fr Socrates M. Saldua as Chairman and Rev. Fr Alex K. Cola Jr. as Vice-Chairman.
In August 2019, Rev. Fr. Alex K. Cola Jr. was appointed the new Chairman of the Commission on Service and President of Cebu Caritas, Inc. As its new head, Fr. Cola and his team faced major challenges , including the public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation in many parts of Cebu province caused by super typhoon Odette.
Also under Fr. Cola’s watch, the Good Governance Committee was created, alongside the Alay Kapwa-Resource Mobilization Team. One major milestone was the institutionalization of Parish Caritas in all parishes of the Archdiocese through a decree promulgated March 3, 2022 – on the occasion of the 108th birth anniversary of the Venerable Teofilo B. Camomot.
The organization anchors its strength on the core values of Christian Charity, Obedience, and Fidelity to the teachings of the faith and in its mission to be of service to the faithful through its three program pillars — Humanitarian, Developmental, and Justice and Peace.