WASHINGTON--The annual Collection to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be held in most parishes on March 5, Ash Wednesday. The collection supports pastoral, educational and construction projects in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia which were formerly under Soviet control.
The theme for this year's collection is "Restore the Church, Build the Future." The collection will focus on repairing and restoring Church buildings, strengthening Catholic education and intellectual life, and the development of new Church leadership. In 2013, the collection awarded $6.6 million in grants to 24 of the 27 countries it serves.
"While many people in the U.S. are familiar with the challenges faced by the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, it is important to remind everyone of the harsh legacy of fifty years of communist rule" said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "The Church faces both physical poverty in countries that have still not become self-sustaining following communism and moral poverty, due to the growth of secularism."
"We are able to distribute significant grants because of the commitment of the lay faithful to this collection," Bishop Cupich said. "By showing solidarity with our struggling brothers and sisters in faith, each person who gives to the collection truly helps to restore the Church and build the future."
One funded project is located in Bucharest, Romania. The Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart run the New Home Centre, which provides a place for abandoned children. Through providing nursery care and preschool education, the sisters give the children a stable, safe environment and adequately prepare them to start primary school. Due to lack of funds, their building had become overcrowded and was not compliant with existing safety codes. The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe funded a repair of the New Home Centre, as well as an expansion to provide living quarters for children and a separate kindergarten. These changes will ensure that the children continue to live in a safe, welcoming environment.
The bishops of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversee the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information on the Collection and the projects it funds can be found online.