Nurturing faith in Latin America

January 15, 2013

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.

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.”

Did you know?

The resources gathered through the Collection for the Church in Latin America are channeled through the USCCB to the Subcommittee of Bishops for the Church in Latin America, who are in charge of the designation of funds (grants) and make the final decisions on matters related to the region. The Subcommittee gives aid to pastoral projects in over 25 countries in the regions of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Special priority is given to evangelization and catechetical programs as well as mission related activities that promote the encounter with Jesus and help us to respond to his call to be disciples and missionaries so that our people can find life in Him.

In 2012, 417 grants in 23 countries were awarded totaling more than $6.5 million. The grants supported youth ministry, catechesis and religious education, formation of seminarians, permanent deacons, religious men and women and the continuing education of the clergy.

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.