The US bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 38 grants totaling $948,195 to assist the Church in Africa. The subcommittee approved the grants during their Nov. 10 meeting in Baltimore.
The main funded areas are pastoral training, justice and peace initiatives, leadership formation, and operational costs. One grant for $35,000 will fund the formation of pastoral agents in the Diocese of Bondo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This region is subject to ongoing armed conflict, human rights abuses and exploitation for gold and diamonds. This situation makes pastoral work particularly challenging. The grant will help provide a retreat for priests, formation for pastoral council members from 14 parishes of the diocese, catechist training, and materials for pastoral work.
“The Church in Africa has grown tremendously and is currently at a critical juncture,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “There are still many needs, but those needs are changing. Many areas no longer seek assistance for basic administrative costs, but instead need help developing leadership programs and a sustainable infrastructure to support diocesan and parish programs.”
The subcommittee also approved a $25,000 grant to the Diocese of Dédougou in Burkina Faso. The grant will provide access to computers, programs, and printers for Catholic school teachers, and formation training. These teachers work in impoverished schools that were nationalized in 1969 and have only recently been given back to the Church.
The schools, which are in very poor condition, are essential in preserving and promoting the Catholic faith and culture. The Subcommittee also approved a $12,000 for new desks and chairs in six primary schools in the diocese.
“In the U.S., we can often take Catholic education for granted,” said Cardinal McCarrick. “In Africa, a Catholic education is often crucial for receiving catechesis. Schools can be prevented from operating by inadequate funding for teacher training, materials, or buildings and furniture. Some costs are most pressing initially, when a diocese is trying to set up new schools. We hope to assist our young brothers and sisters through these grants in order to support them in learning and experiencing the faith.”
The grants are funded by the annual collection for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. To date, 75 percent of U.S. dioceses and eparchies have voluntarily participated in the Fund. The USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa administers the Fund and gives pastoral grants to African episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa.
More information on the work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa can be found online at: www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/solidarity-fund-for-africa/index.cfm