Monsignor William Burke is convinced that if Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore would donate at least one hour’s pay or wages to the Nov. 18-19 special collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), it will go a long way toward lifting people out of poverty.
“It will help people find jobs and create economic development,” said Monsignor Burke, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Baltimore and archdiocesan CCHD director. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The CCHD was founded in 1970 by the Catholic bishops of the United States as their national domestic anti-poverty program. The campaign encourages social justice education programs and attempts to address the root causes of poverty. It supports low-income people as they try to bring long-term change to their communities.
The U.S. bishops reported that last year’s poverty rate for families was 9.8 percent, representing 8.1 million families. That number was down from 10.4 percent (8.6 million families) in 2015.
Nearly a third of all individuals live in families whose household income is less than twice the poverty line. For a family of four with two children, that would be a household income less than $48,678.
“With our Holy Father, Pope Francis, CCHD celebrates the joy of the Gospel,” Archbishop William E. Lori wrote in a November letter encouraging support for the special collection. “CCHD provides not a hand out, but a way out of the poverty still affecting over 44 million Americans.”
The archbishop noted that last year, parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore contributed $205,800 to the collection. Nine self-help, poverty-level income groups within the archdiocese received $405,000 in national and local CCHD grants.
Monsignor Burke, who has headed the local CCHD since 1972, said the national grants awarded to Baltimore last year were the biggest ever.
The United Workers Association, which Monsignor Burke said is working against an incinerator in Curtis Bay that would “add to the bad quality of air that’s already there,” received a $70,000 national grant last year.
Also receiving national grants were the No Boundaries Coalition, $75,000; BRIDGE of Maryland, $50,000; Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), $50,000; North East Housing Initiative, $50,000; People Working Together in Howard, $40,000 and Immigration Outreach Service Center (IOSC), $30,000.
Twenty five percent of funds collected remain in local dioceses to fund local anti-poverty projects, according to the CCHD.
This year’s special collection is scheduled for the same Sunday designated as the first World Day of the Poor, established by Pope Francis to encourage greater respect for those in poverty, outreach and “encounter.”