WASHINGTON (October 26, 2000) -- This year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development celebrates "Thirty Years of Helping People Help Themselves." Bishop John J. Leibrecht, Chairman of the CCHD Committee of the United States Catholic Conference, said that this theme will carry through the CCHD annual appeal and collection, which is scheduled for November 18 and 19 in most dioceses.
As he opened the 2000 drive, Bishop Leibrecht also reported that donations to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development 1999 appeal surpassed $15 million for the first time.
"For thirty years, CCHD has assisted poor and low-income people to work with others in developing their own solutions to poverty and injustice," said Bishop Leibrecht. "Catholics in parishes throughout the country contribute generously to this appeal by the bishops of the United States, knowing that CCHD's leadership and seed money inspire real change in the lives of many people."
Since its establishment by the nation's Catholic Bishops in 1970, CCHD has distributed more than $250 million in grants to more than 3500 projects dedicated to helping people overcome their poverty. The $15.2 million collected in the 1999 appeal includes some $3.8 million that is retained by the dioceses for their local anti-poverty programs. From the national share of the 1999 appeal, CCHD approved 366 projects in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The CCHD's record-high collection was a four percent increase over 1998, and reflected tireless efforts by CCHD directors in dioceses throughout the country. In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, where the collection increased almost ten percent, CCHD coordinator Tom Costanza said, "parishioners respond to CCHD because we're tackling relevant poverty issues right at their roots. We're funding groups that are involved in education reform and economic development and we're empowering people." Mr. Costanza also said, "We remind people that the work of CCHD is a part of our Church's consistent life ethic and we tell the actual stories of people whose lives have been changed with the help of CCHD.
In Cincinnati, diocesan director Connie Widmer said that she uses every opportunity available to let parishioners know how effective CCHD is. Last year, the national share of the Cincinnati collection amounted to $341,000. "We encourage pastors to invite people from CCHD-funded projects to speak at Masses and we hold a training session for the speakers, so they are comfortable telling their stories," said Ms. Widmer. "We focus on the educational and prayerful aspects of social justice, in addition to the practical, and we even have a social action game that is modeled on 'Jeopardy'. In the weeks before the appeal, we have CCHD ads and stories in our local Catholic paper and we also devote our office's ground-floor display window to CCHD."
"We try to keep CCHD on the front burner at Catholic parishes all year long," said CCHD director Bridget Sheehan in Venice, Florida. The result was an eight percent increase in the collection last year. Ms. Sheehan said, "We encourage Social Action committees in the parishes to use CCHD educational materials throughout the year and we provide them with speakers from our funded projects." One speaker who is in great demand is Immokalee Workers'organizer Lucas Benitez, who won CCHD's first Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award for his courageous leadership of farm workers who initially came together through CCHD-funded projects.
In Chicago, where the CCHD collection returned $540,000, archdiocesan director Elena Segura said, "We have had great leadership from our Cardinals. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was a huge promoter of CCHD and Cardinal Francis George is extremely supportive of our mission. We also have 50 volunteers active in CCHD committees throughout the archdiocese."
Sr. Elizabeth Avalos, BVM, CCHD director in San Jose, echoed the importance of support among the clergy. "Our pastors and priests see and promote CCHD as a real positive endeavor of the Church. The people here in the Santa Clara Valley give generously to help people who are trying to become self-sufficient." She also said that "CCHD projects not only help people feel hope, but do hope as well," explaining that participants in CCHD-funded projects often help other groups get organized to work together toward a goal.
In Boise, Deacon James Bowen attributes his diocese's more-than-100 percent increase to education and being polite. He explains that during his years as CCHD director, "We let people know what the local CCHD-funded projects are doing and we make sure each family's packet of Sunday offering envelopes includes one for CCHD. If you ask people nicely, they'll respond!"
A polite and methodical approach has also helped increase Savannah's collection by 34%. Sr. Jacqueline Griffith, SSJ, the diocesan CCHD director, said that she sends each parish a postcard, thanking them for their contribution and noting the specific amount they collected. She also submits articles to the diocesan newspaper inviting applications for funding and reporting on projects funded with local CCHD monies. "I highlight projects that are at the far reaches of our 37,000-square-mile diocese, so people know that we are not focusing only on Savannah, the seat of the diocese."
In Phoenix, CCHD director Sr. Carmen Ferrante, MSC, said, "We invite a representative from each parish to come to a luncheon meeting with our Bishop, who reminds them how vital the CCHD appeal is. We show a CCHD video and then offer copies to everyone." In addition, Sr. Carmen said that they ask all funded groups to mention CCHD in their activities, so parishioners will see where the funds are being used.
Reviewing the 1999 campaign results and looking toward the 2000 appeal, Bishop Leibrecht said, "As we conclude this Great Jubilee Year, I am once again reminded how the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development echoes St. Luke's exhortation to mark the Jubilee by 'bringing glad tidings to the poor.' CCHD does this every day through its dignified and compassionate response to those in need." He added, "I am optimistic that contributions to the 2000 appeal will allow us to increase the number of creative and effective grassroots projects we fund."
For additional information, contact Barbara Stephenson, CCHD, 202-541-3364, firstname.lastname@example.org