WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are launching a scholarship program to fund education projects in Africa.
This program is one of many supported by Catholics in the United States through the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, a national collection sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, chairman of the conference’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, noted that “countries throughout Africa are rich in culture and resources and just plain human values.”
“Nevertheless,” he continued, “HIV/AIDS also takes and threatens the lives of millions.”
“War and oppression endanger children and families,” the bishop lamented. “Extreme poverty and famine are ever present.”
He affirmed: “Faith is what sustains people confronting these realities.
“The solidarity fund helps alleviate the suffering of many in Africa while helping them to grow in the Catholic faith.”
The prelate stated that “the Church in Africa is blessed with a faith rooted in hope — a hope attained from surviving amidst the critical and unique challenges each parish, village, and country faces.”
This year, the solidarity fund collection will focus on the theme, “It’s Possible, Join Us.” It will be scheduled according to the individual decision of the various dioceses and parishes.
The new scholarship fund in particular was launched after a study undertaken by the conference in partnership with the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame and the episcopal conferences of Eastern Africa. The study underlined education as one of the greatest pastoral needs of that region.
Other projects supported by this fund include catechetical education of lay people in Namibia; training of pastoral caregivers for the sick in Uganda; workshops on justice, peace and development in West Africa; assistance for Catholic radio stations in Liberia; and leadership training for Catholic teachers in Ghana. In the Republic of the Congo, the fund also supports The Action of Talitha Kum, a center for youth traumatized by civil conflict.
The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa has approved 291 grants for over $6 million since it began funding projects in 2007.
Bishop Ricard urged the faithful to be generous in this national collection, noting that “this fund touches the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters in the African continent in a very real, tangible way.”
He concluded, “The Church in Africa continues to rely on the prayers and solidarity of U.S. Catholics.”
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For more information: http://www.usccb.org/churchinafrica