By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Holy Rosary Credit Union, founded in 1943 at Holy Rosary Parish by parishioners, is expanding its services to reach more people in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. On April 1, Holy Rosary Credit Union of St. Joseph will open its doors.
To Carole Whyte, president of the credit union, the opening shows that the hand of God has been at work.
While the new branch will soon open, the move took some time to accomplish. “The conversation started about four years ago,” said Jude Huntz, chancellor of the diocese. “Catholic agencies in the St. Joseph area were letting us know that many lower income families were getting hit hard by payday loans and there weren’t any real alternatives for them.”
Whyte said it was “a humbling experience” to attend the organizational meeting.
Personally, she added, “I wasn’t sure we had the resources to expand but the Lord has his ways. God was in this work.”
Holy Rosary Credit Union was founded for immigrants and for 70 years at its main office at 5th and Campbell has served the Italian, Triestani, Cuban, Mexican, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian and Sudanese residents who call the Old Northeast Kansas City neighborhood home.
“The role of the diocese,” Huntz said, “was to interest the St. Joseph parishes in the credit union so they would promote it to their parishioners. We also helped the credit union secure funding from three years of grants from the National Office of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”
The benefits of credit union membership to low income families are many, Huntz added. “Holy Rosary provides financial education from budgeting to interest rates to financial security, helps members keep away from payday loans, and is one of the few institutions where you can get a mortgage of $55,000 or less.”
In Dec. 2012, the diocese applied for a conditional use permit for the new branch office to be located at 1813 S. 12th Street, in St. Patrick’s Parish Center, formerly the parish grade school. A first reading of the permit application by the City Council is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19.
The credit union wouldn’t be the sole occupant of the building. Besides the parish, the gym is rented out for daily use as a basketball clinic; Immigrant Outreach provides emergency needs and housing from an office there. InterServ also operates an office in the building for services to immigrants. Missouri Western State University has a branch of its adult literacy program, Pass the Power in the old school building.
The credit union fit perfectly into the parish’s long range plans for the building becoming a parish and community center, helping immigrants in particular.
It will be the third branch of the credit union. Just slightly over a year ago, Holy Rosary merged with United Catholic Credit Union, becoming Holy Rosary, a united Catholic Credit Union, with offices at the original location in Old Northeast and at 7043 Blue Ridge Blvd. in Raytown. Between the two branches, Huntz said, most of Jackson County and the Northland parishes are served. Catholic Family Credit Union, also a Kansas City-based credit union, serves parishes mostly on the southwest side of the county as well as Avila and Rockhurst Universities.
The St. Joseph branch office of Holy Rosary Credit Union will be able to serve not only St. Joseph residents but also parishes in Chillicothe, Excelsior Springs, Cameron and others in the northern part of the diocese.
The St. Joseph branch, like the main office, will staff bilingual tellers and loan officers. Americorps Vista volunteers are going to be running the branch office, Whyte said.
Whyte said parish volunteers have been working hard to build teller counters, arrange for some equipment to be donated, paint and get the office ready for the April 1 opening.
An Open House and Ribbon Cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 1. Whyte said that Father Jorge Ramirez, administrator of the parish, wanted the ribbon cutting to take place on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which is appropriate as most of Holy Rosary Credit Union members are working people.
Whyte was happy to agree. “We would not be opening in St. Joseph without the CCHD grants and Father Jorge’s prayers. God opened the door, providing this opportunity. I am very excited!”
The credit union is not-for-profit, owned by its members who also elect the governing board of directors. It offers many of the same services as a traditional banking institution, but it can offer lower rates and financial education to help its members attain security.
Huntz said a conversation is beginning that could bring a Holy Rosary Credit Union branch to Belton.
For more information on membership or services, visit www.holyrosarycu.org/home or call (816) 221-2734.