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|Nurturing faith in Latin America|
By Catherine Rogan
HOUSTON — During the weekend of Jan. 26 and 27, Archdiocesan faithful will have the opportunity to help the Catholic Church in Latin America by supporting the annual national Collection for the Church in Latin America.
In 1965, during the last session of the Second Vatican Council, the Bishops of the United States approved the creation of an annual national collection to support economic aid to pastoral projects of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The people of Latin America are often characterized by their warm, humble and passionate hearts. However, economic hardship, poverty and violence are frequently major obstacles in their daily lives, and in the work of the Church.
Funds from the collection seek to help people overcome these challenges and enables projects focused on evangelization, lay-leadership programs and religious formation. This is done in many ways including retreats, youth programs, building and renovating schools and churches and funding vocational outreach programs.
This year young people around the world prepare to make the pilgrimage to Brazil for “World Youth Day” in April, so the collection has a specific focus on youth and young adult ministries. The generous support from the collection will help parishes provide youth the tools they need to grow in their relationship with Christ and with the world around them. It will include funding retreats, catechesis and vocation discernment programs, and programs to develop the leadership of young people in the Church.
Additionally, the collection supports the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America which provides grant assistance to rebuild churches in countries devastated by natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and the 2012 devastation in Cuba and Haiti caused by Hurricane Sandy.
“The collection funds critical projects in different dioceses throughout Latin America…” said Father Juan Molina, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of National Collections and director for the Church in Latin America. “In many places, the collection funds projects in remote and rural areas where without this help, people would not be able to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
The generosity of the faithful in the United States has helped countless people throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Just a few examples of what recent grants have provided include:
1. In Columbia, the collection provided the resources and programs needed to prepare children for First Communion.
2. In Guadalajara, Mexico, the collection enabled the Dominican Sisters of Charity to start a peace education program for youth and allowed them to establish a Catholic Educational Center.
3. In Mexico City, a grant from the collection enabled a parish to strengthen the bonds of married couples through the use of marriage renewal retreats and provided the opportunity to create a second initiative centered on the prevention of domestic violence.
4. In El Salvador, a parish is now able to administer a program for youth at high-risk. The program addresses the needs for values education and acquisition critical thinking skills. The goal is to engage individuals who will become youth leaders illuminated by the Word of God. These individuals in turn will help others make decisions and a better life through the Gospel message in their daily lives.
“Every year the faithful of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston make a major impact in helping residents of Latin America through their generous donations in the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America,” Father Molina said.
The collection on Jan. 26 and 27 is an opportunity to reach thousands of people in need to the south.