Catholic Charities names new executive director

Dr. Maria Elena Hallion has a diverse background and has spent years working in the field of higher education and social service.

Dr. Maria Elena Hallion has been appointed executive director of Catholic Charities of South Jersey.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Hallion, who comes to the Diocese of Camden with an impressive and diverse background – having spent years working in the field of higher education and social service – to lead our Catholic Charities into a new era,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan said in a release on April 25.

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Serving more than 28,000 people in six New Jersey counties – Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem – Catholic Charities helps those in need through its programs and partnerships with local parishes; faith-based and secular organizations; and local, state and federal agencies.

Assisting others is a common theme throughout Hallion’s professional career; she served as the executive director of Branches Outreach in Rio Grande, which helps marginalized families and individuals in Cape May County get access to food, clothing and social service resources.

She also served as the interim food resources director for the nonprofit Manna on Main Street in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, helping in its mission to end hunger by overseeing its Grocers Against Hunger program; organizing food drives; collaborating with local food banks; and supervising the College Student Basic Needs Program.

Hallion spent 23 years at Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania, where she was the department chair of Health and Exercise Sciences and developed a course on the social determinants of childhood obesity.

A lifelong Catholic, Hallion has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and was a children faith formation teacher in her parish, Saint Clare of Assisi.

“Having a dedicated prayer life, caring for others and seeing Christ in them, and now working here for Catholic Charities, is in sync with what I care about,” she said.

Hallion wants to enhance “the visibility of Catholic Charities, to make sure that people know what we do, so they’ll think of us when they’re in need or when they’re wanting to support a good, giving, caring organization.”

Halliion earned her undergraduate degree from West Chester University, her master’s of science from East Stroudsburg University, and her doctorate in health education from Temple University. She resides in Gibbstown with her husband and daughter.

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