A woman wearing a protective mask prays during Mass at the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters
A woman wearing a protective mask prays during Mass at the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters

In Latin America and the Caribbean, circumstances such as traversing rural terrain, a shortage of ministers and lack of resources make it more difficult for Catholics to practice their faith.

To assist the faithful living in those areas, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops invite all to participate in the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America the weekend of Jan. 23-24. The 2021 campaign, which has as its theme, “Share Your Faith,” will be directed toward lay leadership training, catechesis, priestly and religious formation, youth and family ministries, and other programs.

Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Brooklyn Diocese and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, in a video message, reflected on how the collection has served as a concrete expression of unity and solidarity between Catholics in the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean for more than 50 years.

“Catholics have always followed the teachings of Scripture and tradition by recognizing Christ in the faces of our brothers and sisters,” he said. “You continue that work with your support for the Church in Latin America, where families and young people are eager disciples but face challenges resulting from geography, poverty and even natural disasters.”

For example, in November 2020, the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded $3.2 million in grants to support the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, including areas ravaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Information about the collection, including the most recent annual report, may be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.

Nicole Germain, assistant director of promotions for the USCCB, also shared an example of how the collection benefited the Diocese of Jacmel in Haiti, helping more than 600 youth from its 31 parishes with reading, praying and living the Gospel over the course of a 21-day program.

“This same spirit of outreach was also at work across Haiti during the COVID-19 outbreak when the Haitian Episcopal Conference initiated a communication and pastoral ministry formation campaign to inform people, especially those in remote or marginalized areas, about the nature of the coronavirus pandemic and how to stop its spread,” she said.