The Bishops of the United States have announced plans to send a large amount of funds raised from a special collection to support pastoral activities on the African continent.
By Lisa Zengarini
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa will allocate more than $1.36 million for African Bishops’ conferences, regional associations of Bishops’ conferences, and regional associations of religious congregations this Summer.
Funding comes from the special collection taken each year by dioceses in parishes across the United States.
Supporting pastoral care and social ministry in Africa
The sum will help support pastoral care, leadership development, evangelization, and social ministry activities on the African continent, where the Catholic Church remains a beacon of hope in a context of persistent conflict, growing poverty amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and drought.
The USCCB Subcommittee approved grants for 56 pastoral projects at its meeting on June 14.
Projects include, amongst others: popularizing and implementing Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, Laudato si’ in Zambia; training pastoral counsellors to support those impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in Zimbabwe; promoting evangelization in local languages in Togo; creating a men’s ministry modelled on the example of St. Joseph in Malawi; reinforcing the local Church’s capacities for protecting minors and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse across all the dioceses in Burundi; building the skills of catechists in Cameroon to address the psycho-social needs of internally displaced persons who have fled their homes to escape violence; and, organizing interfaith support for the pastoral care of refugees in Uganda.
Making a difference with small gifts
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, thanked the many Catholics in the United States who contributed to the Solidarity Fund in 2020, despite their own personal hardships resulting from the pandemic.
“These gifts,” he said, “will work wonders in the lives of African Catholics, who are eager to share the Gospel, care for their brothers and sisters, and raise up a new generation of Catholic leaders who will work for a more just and faithful society.”
“Even a small gift goes a long way in these countries, and many small gifts added together make a major difference in the lives of individuals, parishes, and dioceses,” he added.