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Two USCCB offices, two U.S. bishops’ subcommittees announce grants

Posted By July 4, 2013 | 11:28 am | National
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By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Religious Retirement Office announced the distribution of more than $9 million and about $23 million, respectively, in grant money for qualifying organizations and congregations.
Other grants were allocated by the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions and their Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The first subcommittee recently awarded $2.8 million to five dioceses impacted by two separate natural disasters, and the second gave out $4.9 million in grants to youth ministry, seminary formation and dozens of other projects in 28 countries.
The annual Retirement Fund for Religious campaign and the CCHD collection, both held near the end of the year, are two of the largest national collections organized by the U.S. church.
The National Religious Retirement Office at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington distributed $23 million in financial assistance in June to 439 religious communities to aid in the care of their senior members.
Sister Janice Bader, who is executive director of the office, told Catholic News Service the funds are distributed on a per-capita basis to each religious order based on the number of members they have over age 60.
The next cycle of grants will be issued later in July, said Sister Bader, a Sister of the Most Precious Blood.
The CCHD grants were approved June 9 in San Diego by a subcommittee of bishops tasked with oversight of CCHD, the U.S. church’s domestic anti-poverty agency. Grant winners were notified following the bishops’ spring meeting in San Diego.
Of the $9 million-plus disbursed, more than $1.5 million in grants were awarded from CCHD’s new National Strategic Grant Program, which focuses on issues that are broader in scope regionally and that require a more intensive community response, especially from the Catholic community.
Among the winners receiving grants from the new program were:
— The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which will operate in several cities in a collaborative fashion with community organizers on ex-prisoner re-entry initiatives, as well as look at local and national legislation that creates obstacles to individuals making a successful transition from prison life. DART, an acronym for Direct Action Research Training, will conduct in Florida a program similar to the St. Vincent de Paul one.
— Democracy at Work received a grant to work with worker-owned cooperatives, organizing them around the country to offering assistance to those already in existence and stimulate those that might get a start in local parishes, dioceses and Catholic charities offices.
— Birth Choice, in Orange, Calif., received CCHD fund for a family outreach initiative to low-income women with pregnancy issues, fatherhood initiatives, and work with low-income families.
— The California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, received a grant for its proposed initiative to work with dioceses and other partners on restorative justice as well as look at ways to prevent young people from getting caught up in the criminal justice system.
The bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions allocated $250,000 to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., for the relocation of St. Mary’s School in Joplin, Mo., and $100,000 to the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., to assist with renovations of a retired priests’ residence.
At the bishops’ June meeting, the subcommittee considered an additional request from the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese and granted $300,000 to repair storm damage to its St. Vincent de Paul Center and St. Mary’s Church and School.
In May 2011, bishops were encouraged to hold a special collection to assist the victims of tornados and spring storms. The funds were split between the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA to meet humanitarian, pastoral and reconstruction needs, with the home missions subcommittee responsible for allocating the USCCB’s portion of the collection.
After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in late 2012, dioceses were again asked to take up a special collection. To date, $10 million has been received from that special collection. Proceeds will again be split between the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA, with the subcommittee allocating funds designated for pastoral care and church reconstruction.
The subcommittee received four applications to consider at its June 8 meeting. More than $10 million in requests for pastoral needs were received from the Newark Archdiocese and Trenton Diocese in New Jersey and the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses in New York. The subcommittee allocated $2.5 million in a first round of grants and is to consider additional requests at its November meeting.
The bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe June 9 awarded $4.9 million in grants to 195 projects. Funds come from the U.S. church’s annual national collection for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, held in most parishes on Ash Wednesday.
The collection supports pastoral, educational and construction projects in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The projects support youth ministry, seminary formation, Catholic education and intellectual life in 28 countries.
A USCCB announcement on this year’s grants noted one project in particular that received funding: a project to offer specialized workshops in crisis management and public relations for bishops from various countries of the region in 2014.
The Jesuit-run European Center of Communication and Culture in Warsaw, Poland, is administering the project. Future workshop topics will include other areas of communications, human resources, and management of church finances.