WASHINGTON OSV News – The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, urged U.S. Catholics to support the "urgent work" of the U.S. church's domestic anti-poverty program by giving to the upcoming CCHD national collection.
"CCHD helps countless people in our nation to earn a living, care for their families, contribute to their communities and feel safe in their homes," Bishop Timothy C. Senior of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the subcommittee chairman, said in a statement provided to OSV News ahead of the collection.
In many U.S. dioceses, a CCHD collection will be taken at Masses the weekend of Nov. 18 and 19. Donations also can be made on parishes' online giving platforms, and #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds to support CCHD.
The seventh annual World Day of the Poor Nov. 19 falls during the CCHD collection weekend. The Catholic observance was established by Pope Francis in his 2016 apostolic letter, "Misericordia et Misera" ("Mercy and Misery"), which he signed Nov. 20 at the end of the Year of Mercy.
In his message for this year's celebration, the pope describes it as "a fruitful sign of the Father's mercy" that "enables us to discover ever anew the heart of the Gospel."
Bishop Senior's statement quoted the pope as saying that caring for the poor "calls for reestablishing the just interpersonal relationships that poverty harms" and not turning away from the poor "leads us to enjoy the benefits of mercy and charity that give meaning and value to our entire Christian life."
For over 50 years, CCHD "has lived this approach by helping low-income people across the country address the root causes of poverty in their own communities," Bishop Senior said. "‘Establishing just relationships' is at the heart of what CCHD does."
CCHD provides grants for community and economic development projects, technical assistance and other strategic national projects. The CCHD is primarily funded by the annual collection. In its 2021-2022 grant cycle, CCHD distributed more than $15.4 million among 224 projects.
"Every organization that receives CCHD funding must pledge to pursue only nonpartisan projects in harmony with the Catholic understanding of human life and dignity," Bishop Senior said. "All projects are approved by the local bishop, and 25% of the money given by parishioners in their local collection remains in the diocese to help lift their neighbors from poverty."
Bishop Senior highlighted some projects that have received CCHD grants.
One is the Austin Interfaith Sponsoring Committee in Texas that helps low-income residents address the need for affordable housing amid a rapid increase in the number of high-earning workers that is "making rent unaffordable for many others." The organization teaches residents how to pursue fair housing policies and access public services, while working with local officials and business leaders to obtain training for living-wage jobs in their own communities, the bishop explained.
Another is Centro Comunitario de Los Trabajadores in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an interfaith organization inspired by Catholic social teaching, which "helps immigrant workers advocate for their rights and safety in the region's seafood-packing plants, where they often experience wage theft, sexual harassment, and dangerous working conditions," Bishop Senior said.
In New Orleans, CCHD is funding an effort to bring solar power to neighborhoods most affected by long-term power outages especially during hurricane season. This especially affects the use of life-saving medical devices, Bishop Senior noted.
Together New Orleans developed the Community Lighthouse initiative to build commercial-scale solar arrays at 85 houses of worship and community centers that provide emergency power during disasters. Through this initiative, Together New Orleans also is able to offer solar power subscriptions to people who cannot pay their utility bills.
CCHD "depends on the faithful, not on foundations" and "helps countless people in our nation to earn a living, care for their families, contribute to their communities and feel safe in their homes," Bishop Senior said.