On March 26-27 Catholics giving to The Catholic Relief Services Collection will be aiding people most in need of material and pastoral support both overseas and here at home. Each year, this national collection provides assistance to victims of war and natural disaster, migrants seeking safety from economic hardship and persecution, and to Catholics with special pastoral needs.
“This collection, which supports agencies providing relief to suffering people as well pastoral outreach and advocacy to improve lives, is part of what Pope Francis meant when he called for Catholics to engage in ’organizing hope,’” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on National Collections.
In his homily for the Mass celebrating the 2021 World Day for the Poor, Pope Francis said, “Unless our hope translates into decisions and concrete gestures of concern, justice, solidarity and care for our common home, the sufferings of the poor will not be relieved, the economy of waste that forces them to live on the margins will not be converted, their expectations will not blossom anew. We Christians, in particular, have to organize hope[.]”
The Catholic Relief Services Collection provides grants to six Church organizations that protect human life and promote human dignity through direct aid, education, pastoral outreach, and advocacy:
- Catholic Relief Services for international relief and development
- The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., for legal aid to immigrants pursuing paths to residency and citizenship
- The USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services for refugee resettlement
- The USCCB’s Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church for the pastoral care of migrants, refugees, travelers, and Asian and Pacific Islanders
- The USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development’s (JPHD) Committee on International Justice and Peace for advocacy on behalf of the powerless, and for JPHD’s education and outreach efforts to share Catholic social teaching and engage with diocesan and other Catholic leaders
- The Holy Father’s Relief Fund through which the pope assists suffering people worldwide.
Many dioceses will take up the collection in their parishes on the weekend of March 26-27. #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the collection.
Of more than $8 million distributed from the collection in 2020, about three quarters supported overseas disaster relief, international development, and assistance to migrants and refugees; nearly 25% went to education, advocacy, and pastoral care; and less than 3% went toward program oversight and promoting the collection. A more detailed breakdown is in the annual report.
“The Catholic Church is living the Gospel worldwide. We have a ‘boots on the ground’ approach in the midst of both headline-grabbing disasters as well as in the hidden places where millions of our neighbors in crisis never make the news,” Bishop Wall said. “Through it all, The Catholic Relief Services Collection delivers help where it is most needed, and comforts people.” Bishop Wall also emphasized the impact made through the collection, “The gifts of ordinary Catholics to The Catholic Relief Services Collection accomplish extraordinary good around the world and within our Church,” he said. “I hope that the faithful give generously.”
The USCCB’s Committee on National Collections promotes The Catholic Relief Services Collection, and the USCCB’s Administrative Committee makes distribution decisions for contributed funds. For more information on the collection and how it helps, please visit www.usccb.org/catholic-relief.