The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America (CLA) awarded a $17,000 grant to support the formation of more than 400 indigenous lay leaders in Colombia. Because of remote locations, poor infrastructure, and a shortage of priests, indigenous communities in the region seek the integral formation of lay leaders. Under the guidance of local pastors, this grant will help train and support leaders from 90 indigenous communities to expand ministries such as catechesis, Liturgy of the Word, and distribution of Holy Communion in the region.
The grant to expand indigenous ministries in Colombia is one of hundreds of projects approved for funding recently by the Subcommittee. At its meeting on November 9 in Baltimore, MD, the Subcommittee reviewed 194 grant requests totaling $6.2 million to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean and approved $4.2 million in funding for all 194 requests. Grants were awarded from proceeds of the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America and the special emergency fund set up after the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico.
“The Church in Latin America is vibrant and full of people longing to grow closer to Christ. Thanks to the Collection for the Church in Latin America, we can support communities in need in the region and share our faith,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.
Projects that received funding for pastoral activities include the following:
● A Caritas-led youth formation project for more than 150 pastoral leaders from all the dioceses of Argentina.
● Formation of approximately 100 women religious members of the indigenous congregation of the Little Sisters of Sainte Therese in Haiti.
● Financial support for repairs of a church that was damaged by an earthquake in 2017, located in an impoverished indigenous area of Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Collectively, the support of these projects by US Catholics through the CLA collection gives the faithful an opportunity to put their faith into action,” said Bishop Cisneros. “The US bishops are committed to aiding our brothers and sisters in Latin America.”
Other areas of funding include catechesis, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries. The annual collection that funds Subcommittee grants is taken up in many dioceses across the US on the fourth Sunday in January.
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. It also makes grants to dioceses and parishes to rebuild from natural disasters out of the Caribbean Church share of several USCCB emergency collections. More information about the annual CLA Collection, and the many grants it funds may be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america. Videos on the Collection may also be viewed in English and Spanish.