The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved $5.2 million in funding for 241 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe at the Subcommittee’s meeting on June 10, 2019, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Pastoral projects approved for funding include:
● Support for a microenterprise training and resource center for people with disabilities in Bulgaria. This parish-based Caritas Workshop provides employment, job training, and social support to people who otherwise face discrimination in the labor market. This grant will allow the Caritas Workshop to expand its physical space, as well as the number of people it serves.
● Construction of a church and parish house for the growing Catholic community of the Holy Mother of the Rosary parish in Nura, Kazakhstan. This community has been using an old, crumbling house for worship and catechesis. This grant will provide a suitable space for worship, catechesis, and other pastoral efforts which is large enough to accommodate the growing number of Catholics in the community.
● Proliferation of My Fertility Matters Project in Lithuania. Begun in 1999, this pioneering fertility awareness program educates young people through puberty and adolescence as well as their parents. This grant will help educate approximately 2,000 young people in Lithuania in 2020.
● Creation of an art therapy program for impoverished children who have suffered sexual or physical violence, or who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Led by Caritas Georgia, this project will provide dozens of children in villages in West Georgia with art therapy to help cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, and improve their mental health.
“We are humbled and inspired by the witness and resolve of the faithful of Central and Eastern Europe who, after decades of oppression, are rebuilding their ancient church while confronting modern challenges. On behalf of the Subcommittee, I extend my sincere gratitude to Catholics of the United States for their solidarity and support,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, 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.