November 20, 2013
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe evaluated and approved grant proposals for 2014 during the bishops’ annual fall General Assembly, November 11-14, in Baltimore.
The subcommittee approved 61 grants for a total of $1,608,639 in aid. These grants will finance pastoral, educational and construction projects in Central and Eastern Europe, extending into Central Asia. The projects focus on rebuilding Catholic schools and orphanages, the formation of seminarians, and the preservation of Catholic education and intellectual life in 28 countries. These grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
“This Collection offers a valuable opportunity for Catholics in the U.S. to show solidarity with countries in Europe where the Church is struggling to take its place in society after 60 years of oppression under Soviet rule,” said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Many of our people don’t realize that the legacy of communism still impacts the daily life of the Church and we need to tell the story of that suffering and invite the help of U.S. Catholics, especially those whose ancestors emigrated from these countries.”
One initiative selected for funding, “Nuns for Jews,” will document the lives of Catholic nuns who suffered and were killed while helping Jews during World War II. The subcommittee awarded a $47,000 grant to the Diocese of Drohiczyn, Poland, to begin the research. The project goals include honoring forgotten martyrs, contributing to Jewish-Christian dialogue, and overcoming prejudice toward the role of the Catholic Church during the war. “Nuns for Jews” is a follow-up project to a previously-funded project entitled “Priests for Jews,” which portrayed the activities of priests during World War II.
Several projects funded by the collection are for Catholics living in the areas of Russia formerly under Soviet communist rule. These regions are known for extreme cold and brutal weather. Many inhabitants struggle with poverty, alcoholism, and unemployment. These projects aim at encouraging Catholics as they face these hardships with faith and hope. Projects also help people to have ready access to priests and the sacraments.
“We, an immigrant people, owe Europe a great debt of gratitude for the faith we have received from the immigrants of these lands,” said Bishop Cupich. “It is true that the economy is slowing recovering, but the Church in these countries is facing new challenges: a growing secularism and atheism. The projects funded by this Collection are vital to strengthen the faith there for future generations.”
The national date for the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is on Ash Wednesday. However, some dioceses take up the Collection at other times during the year.
More information on the work of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is available online at: www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, evangelization, ministry training, clergy, reconstruction, pastoral, lay formation, Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Bishop Blase J. Cupich, diocese, grants, Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, national collections
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