By George P. Matysek Jr.
At a time when Monsignor William Burke believes the gap between rich and poor has widened, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Northeast Baltimore is counting on parishioners throughout the archdiocese to support the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).
A special collection will be held the weekend of Nov. 23-24 to benefit CCHD, the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program that was launched in 1970.
“CCHD is one of the few groups that addresses poverty by helping individuals help themselves,” said Monsignor Burke, longtime archdiocesan CCHD director. “It addresses the root causes of people’s impoverished state by providing grants for economic development as well as opportunities for creating jobs or maybe even opening a business.”
Last year, parishioners donated nearly $200,000 in the collection. Locally, eight groups received $240,000 in CCHD grants in August. Among them was Project PLASE, a Baltimore-based organization housed on the campus of St. Joseph Monastery Parish in Irvington that provides shelter and employment opportunities.
Archbishop William E. Lori encouraged donors to consider giving one hour’s wages in the special collection.
Organizations that receive CCHD funds undergo a pre-application and application review to ensure that they don’t participate in or promote activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church. Currently, six group have submitted pre-applications, Monsignor Burke said.
“These groups are bettering the community,” he said. “We hope people will get behind this campaign once again.”