WASHINGTON (March 20, 2003) -- Jesuit Father James M. McCann has been named to become the Executive Director of the Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Father McCann will assume his responsibilities on July 1.
Msgr. William P. Fay, USCCB General Secretary, made the announcement.
"The wealth of personal, professional, and pastoral experience Father McCann brings to the Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe from having lived there and traveled there as well as having studied and taught about the region are assets which will serve him well in his new responsibilities," said Msgr. Fay. "We are pleased to welcome him to the staff of the Bishops' Conference."
Father McCann is currently an associate professor of political science and the director of peace studies at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Prior to joining the faculty at Xavier in 1997, he was an assistant professor of political science at Loyola University in his native Chicago. He was an instructor in politics at Princeton University from 1981 to 1986, and has taught Russian and French.
Father McCann earned a doctorate in politics, with a specialization in Russia and Eastern Europe, from Princeton University, in 1992. He holds a license in theology from Centre Sèvres in Paris, a master's degree in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University, and a bachelor's degree in French and Russian from the University of Detroit.
"The Bishops' Committee to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is committed to helping the long-suffering people of that part of the world to rebuild their faith communities after decades of repression," said Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, Chairman of the Committee. "Father McCann knows the task that lies before him as the Executive Director of the Office from his years of studying the politics and the culture of Central and Eastern Europe and from having worked with the Jesuits in Russia and Kazakhstan. I look forward to working with him."
The Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is charged with helping to restore the Church's pastoral capacity in that region. Initiatives include the formation and training of priests and religious; the development of catechetical materials and teachers; the establishment of mass media and communications apostolates; and the support of the Church's charitable works. A national collection, overseen by the Office, is used by the Committee to fund numerous critical projects in Central and Eastern Europe.
Among Father McCann's responsibilities as Executive Director will be reviewing all requests for grants and making recommendations to the Committee, as well as working with the bishops and religious officials of Eastern Europe to identify local priorities and to develop grant proposals.
Msgr. Fay said he is grateful to Father Richard Baumann, the Superior of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, for allowing Father McCann to share his expertise with the Bishops' Conference.
Father McCann succeeds Msgr. R. George Sarauskas, who has been the Executive Director of the Office since its inception in the early 1990s. Msgr. Sarauskas is returning to his home Archdiocese of Chicago.