USCCB News Release
January 27, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Central, Eastern Europe Collection Slated for Ash Wednesday
WASHINGTON—Believe in the Power of the Spirit of Love! is the theme of the 2009 Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe slated for February 25, Ash Wednesday.
This call of Pope Benedict XVI at the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, echoes the testimonies of the faithful in Central and Eastern Europe. Despite a devastating history, Catholics there saw God's love sustain them to create a new generation of believers and energize those who clung to their faith through the darkest times.
From its start over 15 years ago, the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has sought to rebuild what was lost through war and oppression: church structures, religious education, ministry formation and evangelization.
In 2008, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe distributed $6.8 million in grants for 335 projects. Funding went for pastoral and social projects in 28 countries, including Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, Poland, Serbia, Latvia and Belarus. Priority went to the poorest countries, such as Moldova, Albania and Kyrgyzstan.
Current challenges stem from military strife in Georgia, political uncertainties in Kosovo and deep economic hardships in the region. In many places, people still worship in apartments because there are no churches. Areas of funding relate to media and communications, seminary formation, Bible study, youth groups, Catholic schools, scholarships, construction, religious orders, care for the elderly, soup kitchens and orphanages.
Projects funded in 2008 provided humanitarian assistance for street children and home care for the elderly through Caritas in Tbilisi, Georgia, and a new heating system in a seminary in Lviv, Ukraine, to avoid the unpredictable and outrageous cost of natural gas from Russia. A Catholic TV studio in Latvia also received funding. Their programming, which ran on state television on Sunday, had been cancelled. Protests led the station to reinstate the programming.
Although the national date for the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is February 25, particular dioceses might choose a different date. More information is available at www.usccb.org/nationalcollections.