Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awards $2.8 million in grants

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved 79 grants for a total of $2,854,878 in aid to finance pastoral projects in Central and Eastern Europe. The subcommittee evaluated and approved grant proposals for 2015 during the bishops’ annual fall General Assembly on Nov. 9 in Baltimore.
The projects focus on rebuilding Catholic schools and orphanages, charitable programs, formation programs for seminarians, and the preservation and dissemination of Catholic education and intellectual life. The geographical area served by these projects includes 20 countries and extends into Central Asia. These grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Our brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe stand in great need of our help and solidarity,” said Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the subcommittee. “In these countries, the Church continues to face enormous challenges, both from the recent political upheaval in many areas and from the continuing influence of the secular culture on families, and particularly on the youth. Through our funded projects, Catholics in the United States offer a strong message of support and gratitude to the faithful in these countries.”
Several grants focused on Catholic education in Albania, one of the poorest countries in Eastern Europe. The subcommittee approved 6 grants for pastoral work in Albania, which include several grants that will support schools. Many Albanians attend Mass regularly and the faith is growing and spreading among the population. Most of the students are from very poor families who do not have the resources to support the schools or pay full tuition. Faced with this need, many of the Catholic schools are run by religious orders, which finance the schools through their own limited means. The subcommittee funded one grant that will purchase uniforms for a Jesuit-run high school in Scutari. Another grant will install a central heating system for a nursing school located in Elbasan, which is run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Jeanne-Antide Thouret.
In Hungary, one funded project is the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma. Founded in the tenth century, the abbey operates a boarding school for 900 boys, vineyards, a winery and a renowned archival library. The abbey is unusual in that it also functions as a diocese, with the abbot serving as the bishop for 15 parishes in the surrounding region. The abbey has faced many financial challenges over the years. In 1950, the communist government confiscated all abbey properties, which were not returned to the abbey until the 1990s. The abbey runs many charitable and catechetical programs in its parishes, which are all staffed by Benedictine monks from the abbey. In order to facilitate transportation of lay ministers and parishioners to workshops and other events, the subcommittee also funded the purchase of a nine-passenger van. This vehicle will help the monks to continue supporting and educating the people of their diocese.
“I offer my sincere thanks to each person here in the United States who has contributed to this collection,” said Archbishop Cupich. “We need your prayers and financial support to continue serving our brothers and sisters, who live in the ancestral lands of many of our immigrant families. These projects build up their faith and give them the resources they need to continue their struggle oftentimes in the face of an anti-religious, secular climate.”
The national date of the collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is on Ash Wednesday, which will be on Feb. 18, 2015. However, some dioceses take up the collection at other times during the year.
The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information on the work of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is available online at: http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm

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