Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

World Missions Collection: living out a responsibility to the Church Universal

by Jami Le Brun, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 21, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

“Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him.” – Pope John Paul II

Every Christian, through their baptism, is called to be a witness for Christ, to spread the Gospel, through both words and actions, to his fellow man throughout the world. While God asks most of his followers to carry out this mission locally among their friends and family, he calls others to leave their homes, families and friends and travel to distant lands to help the Church make Christ’s love visible to the poor and suffering. Through prayers and contributions, it is the duty of those left behind to help support the few who have been selected to evangelize for Christ – to respond to their own calling to bring hope into the world through the Good News.

One of the ways to support the work of the Church is by making a contribution to the diocesan Collection for the World Missions. This coming Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23-24, a collection will be taken at each of the weekend Masses to raise funds to support mission efforts in the neediest countries around the world. World Missions Collection provides a way for each and every Catholic in the Spokane Diocese to answer his or her call to be a missionary for Christ. By supporting the work of the Church’s missionaries abroad, Spokane Catholics are given the opportunity to share in the evangelization of the world.

And, though money is tight for many Catholic families and parishes, each Catholic has a duty to respond.

“The Church doesn’t stop at our parish boundaries,” said Steve Kocharhook, the Development Director for the Spokane Diocese. “We have a responsibility to the Church Universal. We can support our local parishes and do this.”

This year, the diocese hopes to raise $130,000 on World Missions Collection Sunday to help support seven organizations that in Christ’s name, work to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere. Here’s a quick look at those seven efforts supported by the Collection.

Peter’s Pence: The Works of the Holy Father and the Apostolic See

The Peter’s Pence Collection for the Works of the Holy Father has as its theme “No one has greater love than this” (Jn. 15:13). The theme incarnates the spirit of Vatican II’s preferential option for the poor – to give to others, to empower the weak and voiceless, and to sustain those who suffer. Each generous response allows Catholics to partner with Pope John Paul II in his effort to relieve the suffering of the poor.

The media brings attention to vivid accounts of the victims of floods in Europe, epidemics in Africa, earthquakes in Latin American, and volcanic eruptions in the Philippines. Everyone is all too familiar with other areas of the world ravaged by hatred, war and violence. Through Peter’s Pence, Catholics in the United States join the many faithful throughout the world who contribute generously as a testimony of their fraternal solidarity with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his effort to alleviate the tragic consequences of such events for these vulnerable people.

Each contribution to this collection makes it possible for the Holy Father to respond to the most needy throughout the world, to offer immediate emergency assistance to those who suffer as a result of war, oppression and natural disasters. Such assistance is rapid and effective. More than 98 cents of each contributed dollar directly supports the Holy Father’s spiritual and charitable works. Thus, in solidarity with the Pope, Christians enter into the task of building a better world.

Collection for the Holy Land

Every day young families in the Holy Land try to live Christian lives. These Christians living where Christ walked and taught, lived and died, still live in a land of war, death and destruction.

The Franciscan Friars depend on financial contributions from generous Catholics to support these native Christians, the poor and the pilgrims who come to visit the revered Christian places in the Holy Land. Under their watchful eyes and capable hands, the Shrines and Holy Places have remained open and in good repair, bringing spiritual joy and peace to the pilgrims who visit. Sites cared for by the Franciscans include the place of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the place of his death in Jerusalem, the site of his resurrection, and the places where he taught. They also sponsor archeological excavation and research of sites connected with Holy Scripture.

Since the 13th century Franciscan men and women have given their lives to Christ’s homeland and its people. The prayers and financial contributions of Christians everywhere have been their daily support. The Franciscans’ work has become much more difficult with the increasing violence in the Middle East. Because of the violence and terror, the area is suffering great economic hardship and the Franciscans have increased their social assistance activities as well.

Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)

The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) helps to care for the spiritual lives of Catholics in the countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Ethiopia and other mostly Muslim countries. Contributions to CNEWA support Catholic schools, the education and training of seminarians, encourage vocations to the religious life, and cares for the physical needs of families.

CNEWA carries out its mission to build the Church in two senses. They are first concerned with the formation and support of person, particularly the leaders of the Church tomorrow. They also assist in the physical construction of the buildings and facilities needed for the Eastern churches to carry out their pastoral work, either directly or through the offices of the Holy See.

CNEWA also provides emergency assistance, cares for needy children, the physically and mentally handicapped, the sick, the indigent, the homeless and the elderly.

CNEWA publicizes the religious, cultural, social and economic conditions of the churches and peoples of the East. They advocate and promote respect for human dignity and rights, understanding among peoples, justice and peace.

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith has supported the missionary work of the Church for nearly 200 years. It was founded in 1822 to help missionaries throughout the world and the Society’s work is no less important today. As the needs of the Church in the missions continue to grow, with new dioceses being formed and new seminaries opened, the Society continues to provide funds.

Evangelization programs worldwide receive support through the Society. It has consistently supported the education of seminarians, Religious novices and lay catechists, and funded the work of religious communities in religious education, health care, social service, communication and transportation.

The Missions are fertile ground for vocations. There are over 29,000 men in 374 major seminaries in mission countries. This is an increase of 38 percent since 1989.

Catholic Relief Services

CRS was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States. Its motivating force is the Gospel as it pertains to poverty and the fostering of justice in the world. For over 60 years, CRS has assisted the poor and disadvantaged in over 94 countries and territories, providing humanitarian teaching and long-term improvement programs for vulnerable people around the globe. CRS provides direct aid to the poor, but it also involves people in projects to help themselves lead better lives.

For the last year, CRS has been a consistent presence in Sudan, where millions of people have been forced from their homes by violence and thousands more innocent people have been killed in what has become known as a humanitarian crisis. Emergency food, water and medical supplies are desperately needed and there are critical needs for appropriate shelter and sanitation. In response, CRS has launched an ongoing emergency response to the crisis, including $1 million in emergency funds for immediate assistance.

CRS has provided ongoing relief in the Dominican Republic since 1961, focusing on issues of human rights and civil society to aid the poorest sectors of society. In addition, several new projects begin this year in the areas of HIV/AIDS care, peace building, water, health and sanitation. CRS’ projects combat poverty while educating community members to become active participants in their own futures.

CRS is currently active in many other countries, including Haiti, helping the victims of violence and natural disasters to live a life of human dignity. CRS provides emergency aid wherever it is needed.

The Guatemala Mission

For more than 25 years, the Spokane Diocese has had a presence in Guatemala in a sister relationship with the Diocese of Sololá. The Spokane Diocese shares spiritual, material and human resources with the people in the Guatemala diocese. The “sister diocese” relationship includes financial support, prayer and exchange of representatives to provide pastoral guidance.

Father David Baronti, a priest of the Spokane Diocese, has ministered all of his 30 years as a priest in the Diocese of Sololá. The high mountainous area where Father Baronti lives and works is one of the poorest in the world. Thanks to his efforts and those of others in both dioceses, the Mayan Indian people are learning good health practices, good nutrition and ways of earning a living. One of their more successful projects is a trout farm, in which the fish are raised and sold to local restaurants.

The diocese supports a growing seminary, an active catechist program, a radio program, two schools and numerous other programs to help the Mayans overcome poverty and educational disadvantages.

The Spokane Diocese’s Guatemala Mission support goes directly to meet the needs of the people who need it most – the poor and the needy. Continued and ongoing prayer and financial support by the people of the Spokane Diocese is vital to the lives and welfare of the poor and needy people in Guatemala.

The Church in Central and Eastern Europe

Shortly after the fall of Communism, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe as the Church tried to regain its footing in countries where it had been driven underground for nearly 50 years. Those who sought to destroy the Church under Communist rule did not succeed, but their attempts left a terrible trail of devastation.

As a result of the severe repression, the bishops of the region are today faced with the formidable tasks of restoring church structures and, more importantly, of rebuilding the spiritual centers of their communities. Now, more than ever the ecclesial needs of Catholics in Central and Eastern Europe must be tenderly cultivated.

The Collection for the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe raises funds to address the spiritual reconstruction of the traumatized region – training seminarians and lay leaders, reaching out to young people, reviving Catholic charities, and renewing programs of catechesis and communication. Since 1991, the collection has provided more than $75 million to Catholics in post-communist Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. These funds have supported more than 3,500 church projects in more than 20 countries.

Unfortunately, many of these countries continue to have serious economic problems. Rampant poverty hinders church rebuilding and catechetical efforts. While the people hunger for spiritual sustenance, education materials are scarce, seminaries and convents are desperately short of funds to train eager young men and women, and outreach programs are in short supply.

Much has been done already, but there is much more yet to do. The generous response of Catholics in the Spokane Diocese will continue to sustain the roots of faith and the new seeds of hope in this recovering part of the world.

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