October 14, 2016

United Catholic Appeal

UCA and CRS collections for charity: clearing the confusion

By Natalie Hoefer

It’s a point of confusion for many: In March, there is a second collection during Masses across the archdiocese for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Nine months later in early November, there is a call for support of the United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope, which helps in part to fund the works of Catholic Charities.

Why the two collections? What is the difference? Doesn’t just giving to one suffice?

The short answer is that the two collections benefit two different entities and locations—one primarily global, and one strictly local.

This article will help differentiate between the beneficiaries of the two collections and explain why both are imperative.

‘All of the national collection goes to the USCCB’

Theresa Chamblee, archdiocesan director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, makes no bones about it: the two collections are very different.

“The Catholic Relief Services collection that happens in March, that money specifically goes to the USCCB [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]—none of it comes to the archdiocese,” she explains.

More specifically, the USCCB’s second collection for CRS in March actually benefits six national and international agencies of the American bishops: CRS, relief work of the Holy Father, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and the USCCB offices of International Justice and Peace, Migration and Refugee Services, and Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees.

“They call it the ‘CRS Collection’ because CRS, which is part of the USCCB, is the most well-known of all the organizations,” says Chamblee. “Most people have never heard of the other organizations. But all of the national collection goes to the USCCB to distribute.”

Just as there are areas of too great a scope for a local community to tackle that fall to the state and federal government to oversee, so do the areas covered by the national CRS collection fall beyond the realm of any one parish or diocese to handle.

In fact, Catholic Relief Services does not focus on the United States at all, says David Bethuram, executive director of the archdiocesan secretariat for Catholic Charities.

“CRS is the U.S. Church’s arm to reach overseas, not in the U.S. but in other areas in the world, to help poor and vulnerable people that have to overcome an emergency,” he explains.

While most of CRS’ outreach is associated with natural disasters outside of the U.S., such as the recent hurricane in Haiti, Bethuram notes that the agency also strives to help poor regions around the world with agricultural efforts and with promoting health and nutrition.

Yet a look at the archdiocesan website shows CRS among the agencies of Catholic Charities. What role does the archdiocese play in this organization that only helps outside of the U.S.?

“Through our secretariat, we help with the promotion of CRS. Our goal is to educate [the members of the archdiocese] on what those services [of CRS] are, and how they can help the Church reach out to those who need our services around the globe.”

‘It goes to benefit agencies in the 39 counties’

Unlike the national CRS second collection in March, all of the money designated for charity by the United Catholic Appeal (UCA) stays within the archdiocese, says Bethuram.

“It goes to our local charitable efforts here,” he says. “The funds benefit all of the [Catholic Charities] agencies located in the 39 counties of the archdiocese, including Terre Haute, Bloomington, Bedford, Indianapolis, Tell City and New Albany.”

The portion of the UCA funds that go toward Catholic Charities provide services that would be too cumbersome or complicated for parishes to take on, such as housing for the homeless, day care for senior citizens, pregnancy and adoption services, mental health and psychiatric help, and assistance in housing for refugees and immigrants and integrating them into their new life in central and southern Indiana.

“We try to serve the wider community and to support the parishes,” Bethuram explains. “Many of the families that come to us have a variety of issues that take a professional to address. And we have connections to other services that can assist to meet their needs.”

Because the services provided by Catholic Charities fall outside of the scope of parish ministry, Bethuram says donations designated for Catholic Charities via the United Catholic Appeal are vital.

“People need to know that everyone that is in Catholic Charities appreciates the funding we receive from parishes in the United Catholic Appeal,” he says. “Whatever we’re doing, whether we’re helping provide shelter, helping a child after school, assisting an elderly person by building a ramp for access to their home—even though we’re the ones standing there, we represent every Catholic in the archdiocese through their donations to the United Catholic Appeal.”

(For more information on the United Catholic Appeal, log on to www.archindy.org/uca or call the Office of Stewardship and Development at 317-236-1415 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1415.)

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