national collection for the Church in latin america
December 27, 2004
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For the last six years I have been member of a committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the Secretariat for the Church in Latin America. A little over a year ago I was elected chairman of this committee. The “Secretariat” has existed since 1966, is staffed by four full time lay people in Washington, DC and also includes six other bishops from around the country. From the beginning and to this day, the main purpose of this committee is to oversee a yearly national collection for the church in Latin America and see that it is responsibly distributed. The monies from this collection (which has totaled about $6,000,000.00 annually in recent years) is designated for “pastoral” projects for individual parishes, dioceses and at times national churches.
Each year we receive hundreds of requests from virtually every country in Central & South America and the Caribbean for pastoral projects. Some examples are: catechist formation in the Brazilian Amazon, training for church personnel in bringing about reconciliation in war torn Colombia or helping the oppressed church in Cuba to sponsor important meetings that involve expenses beyond their means. Most of the requests are in the $10-20,000.00 range and are for basic expenses – food, lodging, transportation, etc., things that we take for granted in this country. It is impressive and inspiring just to read many of the requests and hear of the vitality of some of the local churches in their efforts to evangelize and catechize in some very challenging circumstances.
More and more the church in the United States is being fortified and replenished by clergy, religious and laity from different Latin American countries. We have much to learn from the church in Latin America. Inevitably, by sharing our financial resources through this collection the church in the USA will benefit as well.
This year’s very attractive and compelling Annual Report booklet, prepared by the staff in DC is an excellent way to apprise you of where and for what last years’ donations went for. Our Archdiocese will have these available for every parish that requests them. Please give what you can and God bless you for it!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. John R. Manz
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago