The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe said on July 17, 2018, that it approved $4.9 million in funding for 209 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe at its meeting on June 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Projects approved for funding include:
- Refurbishment of St. Luke Social and Rehabilitation Center for children with cancer in Belarus. This Caritas-run facility in Minsk, Belarus, offers free lodging and psychological support to more than 50 poor families annually as their children undergo examination, treatment, and rehabilitation. This center is an important expression of how the Church, whose activities were previously forbidden, today continues to renew its capacity for social ministry and outreach to the poor.
- Expansion of a center for the homeless and the marginalized run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Rijeka, Croatia. For many years the Sisters of Charity have worked on a voluntary basis to help the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness in Rijeka, where many live among abandoned buildings in the city. This grant will help the Sisters of Charity continue their ministry to aid the homeless and marginalized at a full-day center, engaging volunteers and social workers in managing individual cases and so mobilizing the local church to address underlying issues of homelessness.
- Development of a leadership course for youth ministers in Romania. Since independence, the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia in Romania has been in the process of renewing pastoral work in more than 250 parishes. However, ministry to youth is still developing and, to date, only one-third of those parishes have youth activities. This grant will support a seven-week youth formation program to develop leadership skills and further develop youth programs for the Church in Romania.
- Support of summer camps for children and youth from families internally displaced by war in Ukraine. Since war broke in 2014 in the East of Ukraine, children of internally displaced persons and children of soldiers have been among those most affected psychologically by the events. This grant will allow Caritas Donetsk to conduct two summer camps for 100 affected children and youth, where they will have the opportunity to interact with each other and receive rehabilitation and spiritual care with the assistance of mental health professionals, priests, and volunteers.
“As the people of Central and Eastern Europe continue to build a new future after decades of repression, we are all inspired by the example of great hope they give to the world that it is possible to bring healing to the wounds of the past. We can take pride that our steadfast support makes a significant contribution to all their efforts in renewing their communities and passing on the faith of their ancestors to the next generation,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
Other projects approved by the Subcommittee include scholarships and formation for church leadership, church and pastoral center construction, Catholic education renewal and development, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the Subcommittee support the Church in countries previously oppressed by communism.
Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different dates. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.