By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
In 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) authorized the Solidarity for the Church in Africa fund. Catholics are invited to donate to this fund through an annual diocesan collection that takes place in July and August. Information regarding this collection appeared on the USCCB web site on Friday.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, is the Chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. Regarding this year’s appeal for funds, he says:
“In Africa, we continue to witness the most dramatic growth of the universal Catholic Church that features abundant vocations to the priesthood and religious life as well as immense energy and enthusiasm among its youth. Sadly, in many African countries, the Church lacks the resources to meet basic pastoral needs in areas like the formation of leaders, youth ministry, catechesis, and support for seminaries. As the Church in Africa confronts the growing health and economic needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pastoral needs supported by the Solidarity Fund become even more urgent.”
Test of solidarity
The vision undergirding the fund is one of solidarity. That vision was articulated in 2001: “The critical challenges and enormous potential facing Africa today serve as the opportunity for—and test of—our mutual solidarity. Our response to this vocation of solidarity with the Church and peoples of Africa enables us to express love 'in deed and in truth' (1 John 3:18), a love that creates no borders and sets no limits to what might be accomplished together in Christ."
Past funding helped support a pro-life conference in Ghana. Learn more in this video:
Another project awarded funds targets youth training in Uganda. Learn more in this video:
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the fund allows the Naomi Center in Kisantu to provide vocation training and faith formation to migrants and illiterate mothers. It offers literacy, sewing and life skills classes with the view of allowing women to enter the job market.
In 2019, the Subcommittee approved 101 grants in the amount of almost $2.4 million. These funds supported pastoral programs in over 30 African countries.