The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved 177 grants totaling more than $5.2 million in aid to finance pastoral, educational, and construction projects in Central and Eastern Europe. Funding for these grants comes from the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
The projects focus on providing scholarships; rebuilding churches, schools, and orphanages; programs for youth and children; and outreach to the poor. The projects will be implemented in 23 countries, covering a geographical area spanning Eastern Europe into Central Asia. The Subcommittee evaluated and approved grant proposals on June 9 during the bishops’ annual spring General Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Recovery from Soviet rule in Central and Eastern Europe has been a slow and challenging process,” said Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Catholics in this area are in great need of our help. The Church is doing much to support the rebuilding not only of the churches and structures, but also the lives of individuals both spiritually and physically.”
Caritas Georgia received a grant to support its soup kitchen in Tbilisi, Georgia, where they provide food for poor families, children, individuals with mental and physical disabilities, and internally displaced persons. The soup kitchen serves 194 people daily.
In Kazakhstan, in the Diocese of Astana, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate have provided food, clothing and medicine to the poor since 2006. Their ministry has more than doubled and now assist about 120 people in need. This grant will ensure that they continue providing those services, plus coal and firewood during the harsh wintertime.
The Subcommittee also approved nearly $520,000 in scholarship grants for 68 students from Central and Eastern Europe. These scholarships are provided for priests, religious, and lay people to continue their education, typically at the doctoral level. After they complete their studies, they return to their local parishes to serve the pastoral needs of their home communities.
“I am grateful for all who have so generously contributed to this collection,” said Archbishop Cupich. “Your support makes these grants possible. There is a great need, and your prayers, along with your financial support go a long way to strengthen the Church in this area and provide a foundation to build upon for future generations.”
The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. The national date for this collection is on Ash Wednesday. However, some dioceses take it up at other times during the year. More information on the work of the Subcommittee is available online www.usccb.org/ccee.