WASHINGTON--The annual Collection for the Church in Latin America (CLA) is scheduled for the weekend of January 25-26 in parishes across the country. The collection supports pastoral projects in Latin America and the Caribbean that help Catholics to share their faith.
In 2013, the collection awarded 393 grants for a total of $5.5 million in aid. These grants were distributed throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. Projects included the formation of lay leaders, seminarians and men and women religious, the development of youth ministry groups and the support of evangelization and catechetical activities.
The 2014 campaign highlights the call to share our faith. "Catholics in Latin America and the Caribbean face many challenges when it comes to living and sharing their faith," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. "They also demonstrate tremendous courage and passion in the face of these obstacles. For example, at the recent Missionary Congress of the Americas, which took place in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and whose theme was 'Missionary America Share your Faith,' I interacted with many young people from all over the Americas who were hopeful and willing to go out on mission and share with others the Good News and Joy of the Gospel."
"The next Congress will take place in Bolivia and people there are willing to share what they have so they can welcome everyone in the name of Christ," Bishop Elizondo said. "We too are called to share our faith with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and inspire one another by example."
One rural parish in the Diocese of Verapaz, Guatemala, serves 122 villages, including approximately 2,000 youth from several Mayan communities. The parish's Youth Council is comprised of 35 youth leaders who, with the help from a collection grant, will receive formation training through conferences and workshops. Interactive exercises will foster both the development of a personal relationship with Christ and the acquisition of catechetical and leadership skills.
In Argentina, the organization GRAVIDA provides support services for expectant mothers and their families with the goal of accompanying mothers, caring for children and preventing abortions. Aid centers operate in 21 dioceses. With a grant from the CLA Collection, GRAVIDA will continue its mission of supporting pregnant women and their families and providing catechesis on the value of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death.
"This collection offers an opportunity for all Catholics in the United States to show solidarity with the Church in Latin America and to share their faith with those who have fewer financial resources," Bishop Elizondo said. "It's important that we give pastors, lay ministers, and catechists the tools they need so that Catholics in Latin America can face challenges and deepen their faith."
The Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America also provides grant assistance to rebuild churches destroyed by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti and other countries affected by natural disasters. In 2013 several rebuilding projects were either started or completed and several more will also be started or completed in 2014.
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: www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/latin-america/.