Catholic Urban Programs Founder Joe Hubbard
The forecast of rain had the team at Catholic Urban Programs a bit concerned on Monday morning. “Joe said ‘God won’t let it rain on us’ and he was right,” said Toni Muhammad, Executive Director. “We were blessed with beautiful weather, wonderful attendees, and heart-felt remarks from our speakers. The event was a great celebration of all that Joe has done and continues to do for those in need.”

Mayor Robert Eastern started things off with a message of welcome and congratulations on behalf of the City of East St. Louis. Joe Hubbard later recalled the Mayor being a “kid” at St. Patrick’s School in the early days when CUP operated out of the rectory there.

In late May, Toni Muhammad announced that the facility formerly known as the “Charity Office” would be renamed to honor Hubbard and to better reflect the services offered inside. “The HUB” is short for “Hubbard” and housing, utilities, and basic needs. Toni presented Joe with a plaque that reads: “Catholic Urban Programs proudly dedicates this facility, “The HUB”, to our founder, Mr. Joe Hubbard, for his years of dedication, love, and service to the people of East St. Louis and the Diocese of Belleville. August 3, 2020.”

In his remarks, Bishop Michael McGovern said that if we think of Joe’s role we can also think of “The HUB” using the words holy, ubiquitous, and blessed. “Jesus in the gospel said, ‘blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called the sons of God,’” said Bishop McGovern. “When we think about it, as Pope Paul VI once said, ‘if you want peace, work for justice.’ Joe, you have led so many people, working with them to foster a just society. We will have a peaceful society because of the works of justice, the Corporal Works of Mercy, that you and so many people have performed.”

Mayor Mark Eckert, a good friend to Joe Hubbard, was also on-hand for the celebration. Mayor Eckert shared his congratulations to Catholic Urban Programs on a very appropriate renaming of the facility. “To Joseph, our friend, you’re the best buddy. We talk daily and no matter how bad he is feeling, he is always worried about somebody else,” said Mayor Eckert.

Joe closed out the program with remarks of gratitude recognizing those who have worked alongside him in the community including Gerry Hasenstab, who Joe described as being hired by Bishop Cosgrove to “keep him alive.” Hubbard also recognized Bill Kreeb – former director of the Leslie Bates Neighborhood House, Venessa Marion – longtime Catholic Urban Programs employee, Sister Julia Huiskamp – founder of CUP’s Griffin Center program, and Father Ken York – Pastor of St. Henry, for continuing to feed his soul. “CUP has been a dream to help those in need. It was based on the Gospel of St. Matthew. It has been there to be able to help the broken, the hurting, and those that are suffering,” said Hubbard.

Catholic Urban Programs thanks the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce for co-hosting this special ribbon cutting event.