The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa announced the approval of 42 grants totaling $1 million to support pastoral projects in 18 countries in Africa.
Grants from the Subcommittee focus on providing support to dioceses and episcopal conferences to help build their capacity for pastoral ministry. Projects include organizing bible courses, formation of catechists, support for seminarian formation, and support for the structures needed for growth. The Catholic population in Africa has more than tripled to more than 200 million since 1980, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
“The growth of the church in Africa is a gift to the Church as a whole,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa during the meeting at which the grants were approved, “and it is through the work of the Subcommittee that we will continue elevate the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters on the African continent.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia received a grant to support their pastoral care of refugees from Eritrea. The program will offer a place for refugees from Eritrea to gather, pray, and be renewed spiritually. The Chaplaincy for Refugees facilitates weekly bible studies, monthly Mass, retreats twice per year, and marriage preparation. Each year over 150 people participate in the program, and over 500 people have been served since 2011 when the program began.
The Uganda Episcopal Conference will use a grant from the Subcommittee to strengthen youth ministry through capacity building of youth leaders and chaplains in the Diocese of Hoima. The program includes conducting seminars and training sessions for youth leaders and chaplains, hosting radio talk shows, and monitoring and evaluating the results of the project to understand how it can become self-supporting. Through this training, youth ministry will be more sustainable and better coordinated across the diocese. This program will serve 38 parishes and two pastoral centers.
The grants were approved during the November 2015 USCCB General Assembly in Baltimore. Grants from the Subcommittee are funded by donations to the annual collection for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections.
More information on the work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa can be found online at www.usccb.org/africa.