WASHINGTON - In August, many Catholic dioceses in the United States will take up a collection in their parishes for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, a program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that works in partnership with the Catholic Church in Africa to strengthen pastoral capacity, nurture relationships, and encourage accountability and good stewardship of resources.
Parishioners can give to the annual collection through the offering basket at Mass or parish e-giving platforms. The website #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts donations for the Solidarity Fund.
“Your gift will change lives,” said Bishop Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland, and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “While the Church in Africa is the fastest growing part of the Universal Church, it is also the most economically impoverished part of the family of faith. Despite the poverty and conflict that many African Catholics endure, their hope and faith moves them to pour their energy into serving Jesus.”
“Grants from the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa reflect support for pastoral projects and initiatives that demonstrate a truly Catholic approach to promoting pastoral care, peace, and well-being, as it addresses the interwoven demands of Christian faith and social justice. And it is evident from the way the gifts are received that they truly make a difference in the lives of many.”
Grants funded by the collection for the Solidarity Fund support pastoral projects of episcopal conferences and dioceses in Africa. African Church leadership identify their own needs and priorities, design and implement the projects, and are accountable for the transparent use of all funds. Four of the 85 projects from 2021 show the diversity of the pastoral projects assisted by these grants:
- In Kenya, Catholic youth ministry leaders nationwide learned new ways to teach and evangelize during the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in workshops on topics such as the use of digital tools, responding to people in emotional distress, and best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- In Ethiopia, where civil war rages in part of the country, 95 teachers from 45 Catholic schools will be trained on a newly developed peace education curriculum and new textbooks will be printed and distributed so they can provide peace and moral education for over 31,000 students.
- In the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, diocesan and parish leaders teach the spirituality of creation care that Pope Francis summarized in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato si’, mobilizing parish projects such as conserving water and reducing the use of plastics.
- In Burundi, bishops and lay leaders are learning how to prevent child sexual abuse and respond justly and compassionately to reports of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.
“These examples show how the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa helps Catholics to apply the Gospel to every level of human life: caring for individual souls, caring for communities and caring for humanity’s relationship with God’s creation,” Bishop Smith said.
More information on the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and how a diocese or parish can get involved: https://www.usccb.org/committees/church-africa.
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