November 16, 2007


Annual collection is about eliminating poverty in America

Thirty-seven million.

The number is worth repeating.

Thirty-seven million.

According to national data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, poverty now affects 37 million people in our country.

To take it a step further, that translates to 12.7 percent of the U.S. population. If that number doesn’t open your eyes, try digesting this fact: one in every eight individuals in America lives below the federal poverty line.

Their stories are in front of us. The couple working full time at minimum-wage jobs trying to provide for their family of four. The residents hoping to better themselves and their community by refurbishing abandoned homes, reducing crime and offering alternatives to gang activity.

Many of us cross paths with a segment of this population every day. But, in a country with such wealth, it is difficult to comprehend how so many Americans—ten of millions in this case—struggle daily to make ends meet.

Thankfully, that is where our Church family comes in. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the national program of the Catholic Church in America that strives to break the cycle of poverty in the U.S. Established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the campaign helps Catholics put both Scripture and Catholic social teaching into action.

CCHD projects are aimed at eliminating poverty and injustice. Since 1970, the collection has helped CCHD provide more than 8,000 grants to self-help programs initiated and led by poor people throughout the U.S. The programs create sustainable jobs, preserve affordable housing, improve neighborhoods, enhance opportunities for youth and allow people to find a way out of poverty. CCHD has provided more than $280 million in grants.

This year, the CCHD collection will be held the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18 in most dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

As in years past, 75 percent of the money raised locally will be shared with the national CCHD office, which distributes grants throughout the country. Twenty-five percent of the funds stay in the archdiocese to help local groups.

Last year, the CCHD archdiocesan collection raised $125,000. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis was able to send $93,750 to the national office to be distributed to groups throughout the country who are working to eliminate poverty. The remaining $31,250 was kept here in the archdiocese to help fund local organizations working to help people help themselves out of the cycle of poverty, said David Siler, executive director of Catholic Charities for the archdiocese.

“The number of children and families living in poverty in the state of Indiana continues to rise,” Siler noted. “It is our hope that this year we will be able to surpass last year’s contributions so that we can do even more to provide funds that, in turn, provide hope for those seeking a way out of poverty.”

While the Church has a number of second collections throughout the liturgical year, the CCHD effort is unique in that it allows us to join in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering in our own communities, Siler added.

“As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his encyclical, ‘God is Love,’ ‘The Church is God’s family in the world. In this family, no one ought to go without the necessities of life.’ Our contributions allow us together to compassionately provide members of our family with the necessities of life,” Siler said.

As our Holy Father pointed out in his first encyclical, our call as followers of Christ, who are responsible for our brothers and sisters, is to embrace the Church’s mission.

Simply put, the CCHD campaign is about neighbor helping neighbor.

We pray, as in years past, that our Church family will again do its part.

—Mike Krokos

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