WASHINGTON--At their meeting on March 13, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America approved funding for 127 projects, totaling over $1.7 million. The funds will be disbursed as grants to aid the pastoral work of the Church in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
"This collection is an important opportunity for U.S. Catholics to express their solidarity with Catholics in Latin America," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the subcommittee. "The Church in Latin America has diverse needs. Some grants go to evangelization in remote areas, while others strengthen programs that are already flourishing so that they can continue their good work. In Cuba, we are helping the work of the Church there in several areas, especially after Hurricane Sandy," he added.
Several groups that received funding at this meeting will focus on the formation of lay catechists. In Oaxaca, Mexico, for example, a program at Immaculate Conception Parish in Huatulco will address the growing secularism among young people. Answering the call to a new evangelization, this program will train catechists as missionary disciples who will renew the Catholic faith of the people through education and example.
Amid the climate of mobility facilitated by globalization, ministry to migrants is an ever-present need. One grant from the collection will fund a series of diocesan training sessions on the biblical and theological foundations of migrant ministry. The grant will also fund informational materials and will help provide some services to those in need in several dioceses of Honduras.
The subcommittee also awarded a $26,000 grant to the Continental Conference for Natural Family Planning in Brazil. The conference will educate approximately 150-200 participants in natural family planning methods. The participants, teachers and health care professionals will then bring their new knowledge and skills back to their work with couples throughout Latin America. This project will help increase an awareness of responsible maternity and paternity, as well as strengthen couples' relationships while highlighting the value of the family.
In addition to the projects funded by the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the subcommittee also approved four projects for the reconstruction of the Church in Haiti, totaling $726,741. Funding for these projects comes from the special collection for the Church in Haiti taken in 2010. One funded group is the Little Sisters of St. Therese, located in Cazeau, Port-au-Prince. Their convent was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and since then the sisters have been living in tents. A grant of $428,741 will cover the cost of a new residence for the sisters.
"The process of rebuilding the Church in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake has been a long and difficult one," said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the subcommittee's Haiti Advisory Group. "There were many setbacks and unique challenges. However, with persistence, the prayers and the generous financial gifts of their sisters and brothers in the faith, the Church in Haiti is rising from the rubble."
All USCCB aid for reconstruction work in Haiti goes through the Partnership for Reconstruction of the Church in Haiti (PROCHE), an entity of the Haitian Bishops' Conference.
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the Collection for the Church in Latin America as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information on the Collection for the Church in Latin America and the projects it funds can be found online .