By Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on National Collections
In this season of Advent as we prepare for the birth of our Lord and the celebration of the greatest gift of all, I am immensely grateful to the Catholics who have expressed their love for Jesus by giving generously to help the poor and marginalized through the national collections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Many of you have given despite your own struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be assured that our Lord sees your generosity and is using your gifts to create change in communities and in the lives of people who once felt hopeless. The eight collections administered by the U.S. bishops support the church’s works of evangelization, catechesis, social justice and community development at the local, national and global levels.
We were blessed by your prayers for and donations to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, the Catholic Relief Services Collection, the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund.
The faithful who gave sacrificially to these national collections when they were themselves in need have shown our world the loving face of Jesus. Your gifts are transforming the lives of struggling communities and hurting people through practical assistance to the poor and by helping to spread the Gospel of Jesus in places where the church is new, small or challenged.
I have seen the fruits of your gifts in my own Diocese of Gallup, which is materially the poorest diocese in the United States. Created primarily to serve Native and Indigenous communities, it has 52 parishes and 22 missions across two states in a territory the size of the state of Illinois. Many parishioners live in areas so remote they cannot bring their children to religious education each week.
Thanks to your gifts to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, a priest in one of our most isolated parishes has brought religious sisters in to run a three-week faith formation camp. It is bringing young people and their parents to the Lord — and back to Mass. Your gifts are making an eternal difference in their lives.
That is why I am glad to serve as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for National Collections. I see what your gifts do as refugees arriving in the United States are warmly welcomed into communities across the country because you supported the Catholic Relief Services Collection.
Through the Catholic Communication Campaign, CAPP-USA (U.S. affiliate of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation) produced videos and infographics explaining the core concepts of Catholic social teaching and how they apply to current social issues.
In Tennessee, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) works to keep poisons out of streams and wells and help mining communities transition to sustainable energy, with your support to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Your generosity extends to those suffering from natural and man-made disasters through the Bishop Emergency Disaster Fund.
But the impact of your generosity extends beyond the borders of our own country: In Cameroon, refugee families traumatized by civil war will sleep a little better tonight because your gifts to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa have integrated therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder into a program of pastoral care.
And thanks to your contributions, homeless people in Croatia are receiving the spiritual support and counseling they need to turn their lives around with the help of the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. In Brazil, lay leaders receive nine months of spiritual formation for evangelization and learn how to share the Gospel and lovingly address difficult issues, because of your gifts to the Collection for the Church in Latin America. It’s all thanks to you.
Most of you give at Mass or through your parish’s e-offertory program. And the online giving platform #iGiveCatholicTogether now provides options to give to these programs, so it’s now possible to make an extra gift or make up for missing the parish collection.
Through whichever way you give, you are fulfilling the scriptural exhortation to be “doers of the Word,” whose actions help to build the kingdom of God. More information on the USCCB national collections is at usccb.org/committees/national-collections. To learn more about #iGiveCatholicTogether, visit igivecatholictogether.org.
Thank you again for your generosity. As we joyfully anticipate the birth of our Lord at Christmas, may this Advent season be a time of prayer in gratitude for the many blessings we have received through God’s grace and mercy.