It was a joyous atmosphere at St. Francis of Assisi Church Aug. 26 as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) distributed 15 grants totaling $206,000 to organizations who address the root causes of poverty.
Each November, parishes throughout the archdiocese collect funds for the CCHD's annual pre-Thanksgiving appeal. In November 2003, Catholics in the archdiocese contributed $228,600.
"It's gratifying to know the wonderful work each of your groups does with the money," said Monsignor William F. Burke, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi and head of the local CCHD, as he helped distribute eight national and seven local grants.
The day was also memorable for Bishop Gordon D. Bennett, S.J., urban vicar, who has attended the luncheon for several years to help distribute the grants. The bishop will be leaving in mid-September to lead the Diocese of Mandeville in Jamaica and was presented with a surprise $1,000 check to use for his ministry in the poor region.
"I guarantee it will be put to good use," said Bishop Bennett, who described the poor conditions in Mandeville to those gathered for the luncheon.
Groups ranging from the Great Blacks in Wax Museum to the group Youth as Resources, which engages young people in grant making, leadership and community problem solving, received awards.
"One of the reasons I have always said yes (to attending the luncheon) is because I enjoy it and because it really does celebrate the great work of the CCHD," said Bishop Bennett. "This program is so essential in our country where nearly 35 million people live below the poverty line, where one out of every six children and one out of every 10 families live in poverty."
Odesma Dalrymple, a parishioner of St. Matthew, Northwood, and a native of Trinidad and Tobago, spoke on behalf of the Immigration Action Service Committee located at St. Matthew.
"They (immigrant leadership initiatives) have helped us to become more knowledgeable and empowered us to help immigrants in similar situations," Ms. Dalrymple said. "So again we thank you so much for this award."
There are 17 volunteer members of the local CCHD committee, who meet with the various grant recipients and conduct site evaluations. Glyndon L. Bailey serves as chairman of the local CCHD