Pope Francis expressed gratitude for the work of the Collection for the Church in Latin America (CLA) in a letter read at the Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in Baltimore this week. The 50th anniversary of the collection, which recently allocated over $3.3 million in grants, will be in January.
“It is both humbling and encouraging to have the work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America recognized by Pope Francis,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the subcommittee. “It is vital for the life of the Church that we continue to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this region.”
At its meeting on November 14, the Subcommittee approved 191 grants totaling over $3.3 million. These grants assist with the pastoral work of the Church throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. For example, one project approved for funding is in the Diocese of Sonsonate in El Salvador. With the grant from the Subcommittee the diocese will be able to implement a program to care for single mothers and families in distress due to the violence in the region. The diocese will use CLA funds to conduct formation workshops for 145 lay persons. These leaders will then be able to form groups in the 29 parishes in the diocese for the support and care of these affected populations.
As part of the 50th anniversary presentation of the Subcommittee, a video highlighting the history of the collection was shown at the assembly. The first collection in 1966 brought in less than $800,000, but now the collection raises nearly $7 million annually and, due to the faithful’s generosity, has been able to award over $92.7 million since the year 2000 alone. The video featured some of the projects the collection has supported over the last 50 years and reiterated the importance of continuing to support the faithful of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 1965, the bishops of the United States approved the creation of what is now the Subcommittee on the Church on Latin America to provide support to the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean and forge relationships with those living in the region.
The 50th Anniversary Collection for the Church in Latin America is scheduled for the weekend of January 23-24, but some dioceses take it up on other dates. The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the Collection for the Church in Latin America as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, including a link to the letter from Pope Francis can be found online: www.usccb.org/latin-america. The 50th Anniversary video can be viewed at www.usccb.org.